Hello from Paris! I arrived in France earlier today and am all settled in Maison des Provences de France (French Provinces House) in Cité Universitaire, the residence hall campus I’ll be living in for the next ten weeks. It’s located south of the city center in the Fourteenth Arrondissement, adjacent to Parc MontSouris, a large public park.
Here are some thoughts I jotted down during the marathon nine-hour flight from Dallas Fort-Werth to Charles de Gaulle:
It’s hard to believe I’m already on my way to Paris. After what felt like three very short weeks at home, I am now mid-flight across the Atlantic on a giant Boeing jet.
This time around I’ll be taking different kinds of classes – they won’t be a sequence of Civilizations courses as was the case in Rome. Rather, the Paris program is Social Sciences-based, so I am enrolled in an economics class, two political science classes, and beginning French. The Econ class is “Applied Price Theory: Individual and Family Economics,” and the PoliSci classes are “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Idea of Europe” and “The Geopolitics of Islam.” The latter will be co-taught by one professor from the University of Chicago and one from Paris’s Sciences Po.
These courses may not seem particularly tailored to the history and culture of Paris, especially compared to the courses I took in Rome (just to jog your memory, I took 3 courses that covered Rome’s history from antiquity to the Baroque, focusing on the social and political structures of various periods, as well as Italian Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art and architecture). However, part of the reason why I am abroad for a third consecutive quarter is the distinct out-of-the-classroom learning made possible by study abroad. The very nature of living in a country different from my own challenges my assumptions, encourages me to be more consciously open-minded, and sparks my curiosity. Studying abroad has made learning more enjoyable than ever, not necessarily because I’m learning about the place I’m in, but because I am constantly learning new things and reevaluating my beliefs and point of view. This is a large part of why I am taking so much of my third year of college to live overseas. While I didn’t have any guarantee that I would have productive, insightful, and enjoyable experiences abroad (Who knows, I could have been miserable!), I decided to take advantage of the opportunity I had to spend an extended period of time outside of the United States. Now that I am on the third and last leg of this journey, I’m grateful for the diverse experiences I’ve had thus far and can’t wait to get to know this great city.