Stanford in Paris, Autumn 2017-18
Major: Economics & English
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: This is a photo of my French class on our last day with our French teacher, Mme Ricci. We thew her a party to say goodbye– we miss her so much!
Why did you choose to study abroad in Paris?
I have been studying French since middle school and I have traveled to Paris before with my family and loved it, so I wanted the experience of living and adapting to French culture for an extended period of time.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Paris?
I expected everything to be an adjustment–from living with a host family to going to classes in a French-speaking school. However, I did not expect the little differences: how French diet did not really include pasta, how people on the streets were less likely to move out of the way when I went for runs along the Seine as they are in the US, and other small changes. I'm glad I had the chance to experience the nuances between French culture vs. American culture.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Paris?
Studying subjects in another language leads to a depth of understanding that is impossible to achieve when learning in one's native language. I also received a different perspective on the world. For example, in my Globalization (Economics) class, I was instructed through a French lens on the topics rather than an American lens, which was a new and rewarding experience.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I learned that I am pretty okay with being uncomfortable. I also learned that there comes a point in one's life where it's more exciting and fulfilling to be uncomfortable than to live in the world that one is accustomed to.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
One of the unfortunate things that happened to me while I was abroad was my computer broke down, and I needed to get a new one. However, it took me 6 trips to different Apple stores in Paris to discover that my computer was beyond repair, and through those trips I learned that, internationally, the stores are very busy, and if I didn't show up an hour before the store opened, I would have no hope of being seen that day. Through the frustration of not having a working computer and trying to navigate this large purchase in a foreign country filled with people that spoke minimal English, I learned that sometimes the best approach is to roll with the punches and just let things bounce off of me instead of getting upset over things that are out of my control.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
Definitely the diet. The French eat much smaller portions than I am accustomed to (especially as an athlete). Not only that, but the content of their meals is different (focus on meats, cheeses) than what I am used to.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Paris?
I loved the layout of the city. It seems unimportant, but I really liked having the Seine as a frame for the city; it helped me gain familiarity with where things were located as time went on. I also enjoyed the opportunities I had to walk to/from school or other places and just getting to observe French people doing their daily tasks like shopping and eating at cafes.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Paris?
One of my favorite and most memorable experiences during my time abroad was the Bing-sponsored trip that we went to in Bordeaux. Spending the weekend surrounded by all my new Stanford friends exploring vineyards in the French countryside was such a highlight, and I am so thankful to the Bings for sponsoring the trip.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
immersive, boundary-pushing, life-changing, unforgettable, rewarding
What was your favorite food you had in Paris?
Dragibu (French candy– seriously addicting!)
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
My now-broken laptop that needed to be replaced in Paris
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Paris?
I started getting used to listening to more electronic music at they typically do in social gatherings in Paris... but no band in particular.
Every Stanford undergraduate should give serious consideration to studying overseas.
Regardless of the academic path you choose, you will be enriched by time spent in another country. Achieving cultural literacy and gaining substantive understanding of other perspectives in the world will deepen your awareness of yourself, your educational goals, and your own society. Nearly one-half of each graduating class studies abroad through one of Stanford's overseas programs.
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