This past summer, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Paris, France with the University of Arizona. I have always dreamed of one day studying abroad, but I never knew when or where I would. For the past few years, I have studied French alongside Biochemistry, and I wanted to really push my understanding of the language and the culture. With some hard work and help from the Department of French and Italian, I was able to obtain the funds and find a program that would suit my goals for French. Soon, I found myself waving good-bye to my parents, traveling out of the country for my first time. It was a whirlwind of emotions: I was over the moon with excitement and happiness, but I was also quite nervous for the journey and change in my lifestyle for the next 6 weeks.
Through my program, I was partnered with one of my classmates to live with the same host family. Our host parents were absolutely wonderful! They were extremely welcoming and understanding, making us feel right at home in their arrondissement (district). We shared breakfast every day and dinner three times a week with them. Over dinner, they helped us learn common phrases in French and improve our understanding of the language. They showed us some of their favorite French films as well as their favorite places to go eat. One of the best memories I have of my host family was when we all watched the World Cup semi-final match together. When it was announced that France was moving on to the World Cup Final, I remember hearing the world explode with sound as people sang and chanted from their windows down to the people in the streets below as everyone began celebrating. It was so exhilarating, and soon after my host parents, roommate and I joined the crowds gathering in the street and celebrated the win.
Immersing myself in France for six weeks was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much in my time there, whether it be about the language, myself, or about the world outside of the United States. I fell in love with the culture and lifestyle, and while I was able to see so many historic and amazing places within Paris and the countryside, there is still so much that I have yet to experience in France. I really hope to go back in a year or two to spend about 6 months in the country and travel more through the countryside, as well as visit again with my host family.