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Soraya Sandoval - Arizona in Paris

Soraya SamdpvalThis past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France. My desire to study abroad began my freshman year of high school, after taking a trip to Spain and France with my school’s travel club. As a native Spanish speaker, I had an easy time communicating in Spain, but once I arrived to Paris I was completely lost and didn’t even know how to order a sandwich! This trip made me realize I absolutely had to learn French and return to the beautiful city of Paris one day. I was not sure how high my chances of returning were, but I began by enrolling in French classes. There were so many connections I was able to make between French, Spanish and English that I felt my writing and speaking skills continuously improved through my acquisition of a new language. 
Once at The University of Arizona I decided to continue my French journey by declaring a minor. When I began taking my upper division French courses, the French department began promoting a summer abroad program called Arizona In Paris. I knew this was my opportunity to return to Paris and practice the language. I decided to apply, and the rest was a dream come true.

Arizona In Paris was a 6-week immersion program in which I took classes on French history and French cinema. I lived in the 14th arrondissement (district in Paris) with a host mother who taught my roommate and me several things about French culture. Living with a host mother gave us the opportunity to constantly practice our French and learn different things about French living such as the toilet is in a separate room from the bath and sink. I also learned I couldn’t take a shower between the hours of 10PM-6AM, the reason being that the buildings are very old, and the water would be heard throughout all the apartments. These were considered the quiet times in Paris although the sun didn’t set until about 10:30pm, which took some time to get used to. 

Every day we went on excursions to accompany the content we learned in class that day. We did excursions to the Louvre museum, the Renaissance museum, Arc de Triomphe, palace in Versailles etc. Some of my favorite excursions included some trips outside of Paris such as our day trip to the beautiful gardens of Giverny, and our trip to Brittany and Normandy. We got to stay overnight and enjoy the very cold beaches of Saint Malo in Brittany. We also got to see the beautiful Abbey Mont Saint Michel, in which at low tide we can walk to the abbey, but at high tide it’s an island. In Normandy we got to visit the American cemetery and beach memorials which was very emotional for most of us to remember those times. Overall, I got to learn a lot about the history of France in these 6 weeks.

The city was surrounded by amazing architecture, art, music, and nature. I enjoyed taking walks along the Seine River, or just stopping by a patisserie to enjoy a delicious dessert (my favorite!). During my last week, I got to enjoy the World Cup semi-final and Bastille Day. Usually when I walked out to the streets people were non-reactive to events that happened around them, but when France won the semi-final there was non-stop singing everywhere I went. Coincidently, this was also the week of Bastille Day in which they held a beautiful firework show at the Eiffel Tower.

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to return to Paris, practice the language, and learn much more about French culture. This experience has made me self-aware of the culture here in Arizona and has opened my eyes to things I hadn’t realized before.

Soraya Samdpval