It really hasn’t sunk in for me yet that my time is Paris is coming to a close, it feels so natural now that I’m here and in a pattern. Looking back at my goals from the start of the semester, I think I’ve done pretty well. I have improved a lot in French conversation, I have travelled around as much as I can imagine being able to in one semester, the academics went fine, and in comparison with other semesters I’ve definitely been doing better about getting a reasonable amount of sleep. The only one of my goals that I haven’t achieved as well as the others is meeting French students, but we’ll come back to that. Overall though, I think this was a very profitable experience for me and I can say that I really like Paris.
Now for a few comments on the program. Because Paris is one of the sites with the highest language proficiency expectations I think the staff here were hoping for more student engagement in the local culture than they saw. There was a strong effort made on the part of the staff to put on extracurricular programs that were never well attended, although it’s hard to say why the rooms were so empty of undergraduates. For me, one part of it was dissemination of information, and another was poor timing; I didn’t feel informed about what was going on and the evening time slot didn’t work for me because I didn’t want to come back after classes. I can say that I appreciated the subjects of the few I went to. When all else fails, free food is a great option!
One structural problem that I think also causes problems in Paris is the housing options: it’s important to know that your choice will also have a lot to do with whether you’re in an American bubble or not. Aside from the students who were placed in home stays through NYUP, those who chose university housing were placed in apartments with other NYUP students. If there was a way for American students to find more interaction with French students in their home lives, I’m sure they’d be more integrated into the local culture. Even in taking a class with French students, it’s difficult to socialize with the language barriers and given that they’re not inherently interested in getting to know you, although I wish I’d tried harder.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions from professors, family, and friends about how I think this experience will prove useful to my future endeavors and I’m not entirely sure, but that’s not to say that it won’t in the end. I could see myself living in France again if the opportunity arose, and if nothing else it’s useful to be able to communicate with my French relatives. It certainly won’t be my final goodbye to the country once I head home for now. I always think that a travel journal is a good idea and then never get around to keeping one, so taking this course and being able to relate my own experiences to the texts we had or what was happening in other people’s study abroad experiences ended up to be a very satisfying way to process my life in Paris for the semester.