By Mikaela Harris
Senior, English & French Major
Jet lagged. A little depressed. Saying “excuse me” or “thank you” in any language but English. Two days ago, I went through customs at Miami International Airport, reentering the US after having spent the last month in Paris with UF.
This was my second time studying abroad, but this experience was completely unique. In four weeks, each student earned six credit hours, and I explored parts of Paris that I didn’t even know existed (even though I’d spent four months there). Our study abroad group became a family of fifteen. My last trip was a real semester so everyone enrolled in different classes and settled down to live in Paris; this time, we got the tourist experience. With our art history class we went to tons of museums, from the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay to Le Centre Pompidou and Le Palais de Tokyo. For our sociolinguistics course, we went on scavenger hunts looking for pastries and different types of cheeses.
But we also got to live the Parisian life. We lived in homestays so we each stayed with a French family. In my apartment there were three other girls in our program, and it was great! Our homestay mom was incredible, and she definitely knew how to cook. Although I was at first a little nervous about the idea of a homestay, it turned out to be a great thing. I loved living there, and I’m grateful I had such an incredible experience.
We also had our share of Parisian experiences. From nights picnicking on the Seine to celebrating le quatorze juillet (the French equivalent of our Independence Day), so much happened so quickly over those four weeks. We also had picnics at Place de la Republique during the free, outdoor, summer concerts. We went to Versailles, the palace of the Sun King Louis XIV, and Giverny, which was from where Monet got his inspiration. We even went to Paris plage, which is a part of the bank of the Seine that they put sand on to make an artificial beach – not that it stood up to Florida’s beaches.
This experience was pretty near perfect. At first, I signed up for the program only to have an excuse to go back to the places I knew and loved, and I did. But by the end, this trip gave me a new taste of Paris that has added to my understanding of this amazingly complex culture that I’ve grown to love.