During the second semester of my freshman year, I applied to study abroad in Paris for five weeks over the summer. At first I had many reservations, like the cost and missing home, however, now I cannot imagine my life without this experience. In the days between finishing freshman year and the beginning of study abroad, I was mixed with excitement and nerves.
It felt different than simply going to college because your parents are not just four hours away, but a whole ocean. When I got to the airport, I knew it was the right decision. I started making conversation with the other people on the trip, but I had no idea that these strangers were going to become so important to me.
I had vaguely known two of the people on the trip, and one ended up being my roommate which was a relief! We all got to know each other pretty fast while exploring the city of Paris. The beautiful architecture, wonderful food, and great new friends made the transition from Virginia Tech easy.
Most of us took two classes while being there, which included a curriculum based around the French language and culture. We took classes with people from all over the world which was an amazing, and immersive experience. Other parts of the course included walking tours and weekend excursions which were full of information and group bonding. From Notre Dame to Chambord, I loved and savored every second. It was school, but it felt also like a vacation. The constant excitement of the city kept me going through our written assignments, and writing about art museums did not feel like a chore. Having lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens almost every day was one of the many experiences that I will never forget.
The group of people that were on the trip was so unique and I honestly don't know if we would have been friends otherwise. There is something, however, about being abroad together that makes everyone want to be with each other and share the experiences.
I studied French all throughout high school and took only the first semester of freshman year off, but studying in Paris made me fall back in love with the language and culture. The smallest things like doing my homework sitting by the edge of the Seine or taking a trip to the Centre Pompidou to admire modern art made the trip all worth it.
These are memories that I will cherish forever, and Paris will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Yes, studying abroad is a big commitment, and yes it is expensive, but I have absolutely no regrets about my time there. All I can say is thank you to the friends I've made, the professeur who led the trip, and to my parents for believing in a worldly education.