Every time I start telling someone about my upcoming semester abroad, I am invariably asked the question: “Have you been to Paris before?” For some reason, people sort of deflate as soon as I answer, truthfully, with “Yes, twice.” I quickly amend, of course, that the first time I was 3 years old (the second time I was 14).
I am rather frustrated when this happens. This trip is going to be so different. I have previously vacationed in Paris, but never lived in Paris. And the most important difference, for me at least, is that I have a much greater command of the mother tongue this time around. I’ve always had a passion for the French language and I can’t wait to immerse myself in it.
In the last few weeks before I leave for Europe (I’m starting off in the UK for some sightseeing in London, Bath, and Cardiff), the reality of my extended stay is hitting hard. Sorting out a cellular plan has been agonizing. Finding a place to live in Paris was equally concerning. On the bright side, these weeks have also included selecting my classes and planning a few excursions (yoga workshop in Manchester, UK!!).
Registering for classes was slightly intimidating but very exciting. Sciences Po does not stagger registration times, instead, all exchange students (however many hundreds of us there are) signed up at 4pm Paris time at the beginning of July. Nevertheless, I was able to get all of my first choices. Classes at Sciences Po meet only once a week for two hours. he cours magistrals (lectures) have an additional two hours of discussion section. Consequently, I have 6 hours of class on Monday (including a language class), 4 hours on Tuesday, and 2 hours on Wednesday. And then I’m done for the rest of the week!! It will definitely take some time getting used to a four day weekend.
Alors, au revoir les Etats-Unis, au revoir le Michigan, au revoir le Northwestern! Je prends ce voyage avec un esprit d’aventure!