These past few weeks have been such a blur as I have been struggling to figure out a schedule that truly works! This (delayed) blog post will be a detailed summary of my first two weeks here in Paris!
I landed in Paris as a walking zombie after not sleeping for over 35 hours, but the moment I landed, I felt a rush of excitement. After an hour of running around the airport to claim my luggage, I called an Uber to my apartment, and started the journey into the city of lights. The rush of the city was very similar to what I was used to back home in Chicago, but without the iconic skyline. Once I had reached my apartment in the 11th Arrondissement, the next challenge was to haul my two luggage bags up the narrow spiral staircase. After unlocking the door, I entered my new home for the next six weeks, a cute little apartment with two rooms and a spacious living room with a window overlooking the intersection.
After settling in, my roommates and I headed to orientation, which would span over the next three (very long) days.
Finally, after all of the information sessions of orientation, we were free! Wednesday, January 9th, was the first official day of class. A little insight into my academic goals: I am a biology major studying on the pre-med track, but while abroad, I will be focusing on my other interests, including courses like history and religious studies. While in Paris, I am enrolled in two courses, as my program (CIEE Open Campus) follows a block schedule that allows students to study in other cities as well (I will be going to Rome for my second block, and Berlin for my third). The first course is 20th Century French History, which is pretty self explanatory. The second course is Paris Collage, which looks into the combination of history, culture, and architecture that is integrated throughout the city. This course is extremely interesting, as we meet at historical sites for a firsthand look into the content that we are learning! Throughout the first few classes, we visited sites like the Château de Vincennes, a medieval fort near the edge of the city, and Notre Dame, the iconic Gothic cathedral.
These classes I will take while abroad will allow me to develop an overarching liberal arts education, which is extremely important for my future as a physician. I hope to be able to use my education here as a stepping stone into achieving this goal! In addition, I want to develop more cross-cultural skills so that it will be easier for me to understand my patient while considering their background instead of just as another disease or disorder.
Living in Paris has been a dream! Here are a few observations just from being here for the past several days:
- Everyone (including dogs) are dressed to impress 24/7
- The metro (subway system) is extremely simple to understand (it is also super quiet)
- Restaurants and cafes are packed at all times of the day
- Americans are easy to spot
I have enjoyed my time here and have made many friends from schools around the US! It has been awesome to learn more about other states and to argue whether or not I have a Chicago accent (I don’t think I do). I cannot wait for the what the next few weeks will offer! CIEE organizes a study tour for each block, and my cohort will be going to Bordeaux, the famous wine region. In addition, I have started to plan smaller trips into neighboring cities and countries to explore all that this semester can offer me. Shoutout to FEA for making this possible, catch you guys on the flip!