After having some initial trouble setting up by account, I am finally ready to make a blog post. I have been in Paris for two months now, but, on account of all of the new experiences I’ve had over that time, I feel as if I must have been in Paris for years now, not months. I read somewhere that having many new experiences over a short period of time actually makes it seem as if time is going by slower. The idea is that when we receive lots of new information, our brain takes a while to process it all. So, the longer this process takes, the longer that period of time feels. I think I must be experiencing this phenomenon. For example, when I think of our excursion to Normandy and the Mont St. Michel in September, it seems to me as if I went on that trip years ago. I had never before seen anything like the grand monastery and fortifications of the Mont St. Michel, which were situated on a large island that was surrounded by a vast, seemingly endless salt marsh. This environment seemed almost otherworldly to me, as if I had been transported to an alien planet with breathable air. Such a unique experience must have taken longer than usual for my mind to process.
Regardless of how my experiences here have affected my perception of time, I can definitively say that my experiences here thus far have altered my perceptions of myself and others, probably forever. Before I left for Paris, I was somewhat hesitant to study abroad with a Northwestern program and to be surrounded almost entirely by other Northwestern students. Not that I inherently dislike Northwestern students, but I’ve always felt somewhat disconnected from them because I am a first-generation, middle-income, Hispanic student, which makes me different from most people on campus and, therefore, makes it harder for me to relate to them. More importantly, however, I simply wanted to experience a completely new environment from what I was used to and wasn’t sure I would get that by studying abroad with a Northwestern program. But my time living in Paris has been like nothing I have experienced before. Furthermore, I have gotten to know some truly incredible people while studying abroad, and I have forged friendships with the other students here that I never would have had I remained in Evanston. This has encouraged me to challenge certain assumptions I have about myself and those around me, and I imagine that can only be a good thing.