Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Study Abroad: A Taste of Paris, France

Alicia Jimenez, Verrazano Class of 2013, received a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship to spend four weeks studying in Paris, France this summer. Read below for her post from abroad.

Before departure, the professor and faculty supervisor of my program cautioned us not to judge Paris by our first days. Indeed, those first two days were hectic, weighed down by jetlag and very long travel experiences, plus the discomfort of getting used to a new place, new people, and functioning in a country where everyone speaks a different language. But the Parisian magic still worked its way into our jetlagged lives, quickly and thoroughly. From the first bite of a croissant at the café down the street, I was hooked.

I feel like I have done so much in the short amount of time I have been here, and yet to list it all, it doesn’t seem like that much in retrospect. Everything I’ve done so far has had such an impact on me that it feels huge in my mind, and I have enjoyed so many of my experiences that it’s hard to remember those first, slightly sour days. My trip to the Luxembourg Gardens has so far been a definite standout. Very close to our dorm, centered in a colorful neighborhood that’s peppered with lovely shops and charming, quirky restaurants, the Gardens boast huge, beautiful flower arrangements and large shaded areas in which my classmates and I can bring our schoolwork and enjoy the outdoors. We sit in the comforting shadow of the Senate building and buy crepes at a little stand, where the batter is spread and cooked in front of us.


We also took a class trip to the Rodin Museum, which was my first museum experience here in Paris. This museum also had an amazing outdoor component, where all of Auguste Rodin’s famed sculptures stand nestled among fantastic shrubs and colorful floral arrangements. I have never been to an art museum that is so accessible, friendly and welcoming; The Thinker towers above us but does not seem so apart from us, and the stunning textures of Rodin’s work make them seem very human. This museum, with its determined accessibility and cheerful openness, has definitely redefined the way I think about art collections. I am excited to see how other museums in Paris compare!

Paris is a walking city, and so much of my time here has been spent just getting lost in the streets, sometimes using the Metro to feel around for interesting places to eat or shop. We stumbled upon an international marketplace and spent a wonderful day there picking through stalls, talking to people from all over the world who had come to Paris to share their crafts and goods. We found Shakespeare and Company, a fantastic and historically famous bookstore, by accident, and it was one of the best accidents I’ve ever had. Eating out and trying new foods was something I was first intimidated by, but now I’m starting to get more comfortable (though I am still mystified by the fact that French fries seem to be served with almost every meal, whether they complement the food or not), and tasting new dishes is now a real thrill for me.

First impressions are tricky things, especially when they’re coupled with circumstances of travelling. But Paris has already made a huge impression on me, and it’s definitely a positive one. I cannot wait to continue collecting experiences to help shape that impression into something lasting and unique.   


  1. This is exactly how I feel about PAris. I fell in love with the city

    summer volunteer programs for college students

  2. When someone decides to go study abroad france, I think being Paris is one thing kept in mind.