Tag Archives: study abroad

International Education Week – Celebrate with Melibee Global!

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In honor of International Education Week, I wanted to pass along a Melibee Global article to give you ideas to celebrate. International Education Week reminds us to be inspirNational in our everyday lives – to learn from others, to seek understanding, to embrace diversity, and to have a traveler’s mindset.

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Thank you to Kyle Rausch from Melibee Global for the great ideas!

“The fall semester is now underway for institutions across the U.S. and before you know it November will be here, and along with it, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’  International Education Week (IEW)! IEW 2016 will fall on November 14-18 this year, and while many institutions find this a great time to host their study abroad fair or have international student clubs table at the student union, we here at Melibee have been brainstorming more creative ideas for you to try on your campus. Check out some of our team’s ideas below and share how your institution will be celebrating the power of international education in the comments.

1. International Pictionary

Create a simple international version of Pictionary: forget the traditional game board, instead, come up  with some basic categories like “emotions,” “slang,” “daily living!”  Invite students to the game and pair an international student with a domestic student and have them play against another team. Just as in traditional Pictionary, no talking is allowed, but you can throw in the possibility of letting domestic students speak if they only use words they might know in their international partner’s native language. Hang the most culturally-revealing images on the wall in a common area with a photo of the players and their home countries – each with a short reflection on what they learned!

2. World Distance Signage

Do the students on your campus know where you offer study abroad opportunities?  Do they know where your study abroad office is located?  Create a sign like the one in the image with the distances between your campus and your study abroad program locations!  Put it in a high traffic area on campus with a sign that points to your education abroad office.

3. Chopped: International Campus Edition

Put a new twist on the global café concept and instead of simply having international or cultural groups prepare traditional dishes for your campus, make it a competition!  Campus or local chefs could come together to pick out two countries at random and then compete to make a dish inspired by the flavors or traditional dishes of those countries.  The panel of judges could be students…better yet, international students from the countries that are selected!

4. Explore Your Ancestry

We all come from somewhere and it shapes our identity. Short of each of us researching and constructing a massive family tree, there are ways we can ponder who we are and why we are the ways we are. Melibee offers exploration of identity through some unique speakers such as Santos (Glocal Soul Identity in a Global and Local Context),  Michael W. Twitty (Kosher/Soul: Black/Jewish Identity Cooking), and Jennifer Hamady (Voice Across Cultures).  Of course, we offer lots of unique speakers that are ideal for IEW and other events, too. You can see the full roster here.

5. International Campus Recipes

Food…it’s one of everyone’s favorite ways to get acquainted with another culture.  Hence another foodie idea! Capture the diversity of your campus by creating a recipe book to represent all the various countries and cultures on your campus.  Ask for submissions from everyone: staff, faculty, and students.  Encourage them to share their favorite food from another country, the recipe, and what memory is attached to that recipe. Partner with your campus dining services to share the recipes and to cook the food too! Publish the recipes online or in print and sell it for donations to go towards study abroad scholarships. Then you can host an event during IEW that features some of the recipes in the book freshly prepared!

6. Pokémon Go Abroad!

One of this year’s biggest fads is Pokémon Go and there are numerous ways in which your campus can leverage its popularity, even during IEW!  Most campuses are hotspots for Pokémon Go activity, so find out where all the Pokéstops are on your campus and make sure to host some of your IEW events near a Pokéstop and drop some lures to encourage students that play the game to stop by your event.

Many Pokémon are based on wildlife in the real world, and often wildlife that is regional specific.  Host an art or photo campaign (with works created by students) that compares the fictional characters with their real life counterparts and educates students on their native environs.

Have some Pokémon gyms on your campus?  Schedule a window of time where Pokémon Go’s three teams can do battle at one of your campus gym spots with the team who holds the gym the longest during that period of time winning some sort of international prize (think simple international swag: create Pokémon/International themed t-shirts, water bottles, sunglasses etc.)

In addition to some Pokémon being more common or rare depending upon the region you are in, some Pokémon can only be found in certain countries/regions of the world.  Have your students abroad tweet or Instagram the rare Pokémon they’ve caught while abroad using a branded hashtag and the #IEW2016 hashtag.

The possibilities are endless–if you don’t know where to start, ask some students who play the game–they’ll have ideas!  For some of the basics on the game, check out this website.

7. International House Hunter: Dorm Edition

What are student accommodations like in other countries?  Host an exhibition curated by a team of domestic and international students about what residential life is like on international campuses.  Have a photo gallery set up to give your domestic students the insider’s view of what other countries’ residence halls look like compared to those of the U.S.  At each installation, have international students and information about exchange partners on hand.

8. International Dog Fair

Does your institution bring puppies on campus during finals week for stress-relief?  If not–this is a hit with students!  Host a “Dogs From Around the World” event for the dog lovers on your campus.  Since different breeds hail from different countries around the world, you could have various breeds represented by different countries that students could pet and play with, learn about, and couple that with other international information about that country, including your study abroad program opportunities.

There you have it! Eight unique ideas to get your campus engaged with International Education Week 2016! Share you ideas or how your modifying these in the comment section below – and happy #IEW2016!”

Weekend Trip Ideas from Paris, France

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Are you about to travel to or study abroad in France? After studying in Paris for almost four months and experiencing a Trafalgar tour of France a few years ago, I can tell you some of my favorite weekend trips to help spark ideas for your travel planning. I limited each recommendation to a couple sentences – if you have questions, feel free to comment and I can share more ideas with you!

  • Giverny: My absolute favorite place slightly outside of Paris, where you can tour Monet’s home. Explore the water lily ponds, luscious gardens, and quaint home where Monet and his family resided.
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Giverny with my mom in August 2011

  • Palace of Versailles: Learn why the French revolution occurred based on the extraordinary, ornate palace from the French royal families. I can almost guarantee that you will likely never see so much gold in one building at one time.
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Palace of Versailles with my mom in August 2011

  • Bordeaux: Enjoy the best wine in the world with a Bordeaux wine country tour. I enjoyed Medoc which has stronger red wines. If you prefer lighter red wines, go to St. Emilion. The Bordeaux Tourism Office offers excellent city walking tours for affordable prices, great views, and interesting history.
  • Normandy: Visit Deauville, the home of Coco Chanel, and Honfleur where you will find artsy neighborhoods and sailboats. While I did not have the opportunity to see the World War II battle fields, I would also highly recommend going there to see one of the most emotional historical sites.
  • Brittany: Visit St. Malo for a medieval experience along the sea. Try both sweet and savory crepes, which are originally from Brittany. Tour Mont St. Michel to see one of the wonders of the world. The cathedral and castle are incredible.
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Mont St. Michel in January 2016

  • Strasbourg: Go on the Happy Tour to learn the city’s history of the city, including political control issues between Germany and France and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.  Admire the fairytale-like buildings and enjoy a mix of German and French cuisine.
  • French Riviera:Explore some of the most beautiful cliff-dwelling beaches of France and posh shopping in Nice and St. Tropez. Explore the playground of the rich and famous in Monaco.
  • Arles: Enjoy Vincent Van Gogh’s home where he painted over 300 pieces of artwork and explore ancient Roman ruins.
  • Lyon: Experience the third largest city in France that has become a gastronomical capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • London: Take the 2-hour EuroStar trip (underwater!) from Paris to London. Sandemann’s walking tour provides a great overview of the highlights of London, including Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, and the changing of the guards. Also take advantage of excellent theatre options – I enjoyed Phantom of the Opera! Consider a day trip – I had an amazing time in Stonehenge, where I saw the famous rocks. I visited Salisbury where I saw the Magna Carta and Western Europe’s tallest cathedral. I ended the day trip in Bath, where I enjoyed learning about the Roman baths and tried crème tea at an Alice in Wonderland inspired café.
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London in January 2016

Check out my Spanish Adventures Revealed blog posts to learn more specifics about France (Paris, Paris cont’d.Giverny and VersaillesAvignon, Arles, French Riviera, French Riviera cont’d., Dijon, and Lyon). Do you have other favorite weekend trips from Paris? Help out your fellow inspirNational readers and comment below :).

 

Comprehending Reverse Culture Shock

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Those curious to study and work abroad are always threatened by the thought of reverse culture shock, but often wonder if it is real or if it will really happen to them. With one study abroad experience under my belt, I thought that reverse culture shock wouldn’t happen to me after being in Paris. What I realized, though, is that I was in Paris for almost twice as long as I was in Spain, and my graduate school and adult realities now are much different than my previous realities in the comfortable space of undergrad.

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Source: http://www.lumesse.com

With a week gone by since I have arrived back to the United States, I have noticed reverse culture shock in both subtle and big ways. First of all, I experienced a physiological adjustment, with little to no sleep the night before my flight home, too much food during my flight, and the threat of a cold and cough after traveling near others who were sick. It took me almost five days to catch up on sleep and feel normal again. Fortunately, I am now physically feeling back in the Eastern time zone, but facing other adjustments in the transition process from student in study abroad mode, to student in vacation mode, to soon-to-be intern mode.

Another observation is that all my senses were heightened. I would “jump” with surprise when I heard English in France, and upon returning to the United States, I felt that jumping sensation repeatedly until I realized that English is normal again. The sound of candy wrappers on the airplane seemed to bother me and I have never noticed that before. My sense of smell was much more present, as I noticed how fresh the air was in my hometown of Rochester, Michigan after living in polluted city air in Paris. My sense of taste was heightened as I came to appreciate the diversity of my diet in the United States again, rather than the routine cereal, sandwich, and pasta that I had everyday with my host family in Paris. My eyes were very observant that I am now in a familiar environment again, rather than being surrounded by historical wonders, the constant fear of getting lost, and the constant desire to explore and learn about the world. I also felt a need to hug all of my relatives and friends more than usual, after being distanced from them and only being able to send a Facebook or WhatsApp message.

Building on the need for hugs and human touch again, I have noticed a difference in my relationships with loved ones. After four months of limited communication and light-hearted conversation, focusing mainly on my adventures, reality seemed to smack me in the face that my loved ones are facing challenges and they are not in this little safe bubble that I warmly remember as home. While home is warm and safe, there are the same challenges and changes as anywhere else in the world. After four months in explorer mode, I have now returned to daughter, sister, girlfriend, and friend modes, which bring me much joy but also bring hardship that is easy to forget as an explorer. The hardship has made it more difficult to get along, likely because of the pent-up energy of missing each other combined with the fact that I now live a 12-hour drive away from home for graduate school. My goal is to apply the life lessons about being a better person that I have gained from my study abroad experience, in order to merge my two worlds of exploration and relationships.

On a more positive note, I have realized that I have much to be grateful for in the United States, with a loving family, supportive friends, a safe home, a nice car, a great education, and exciting opportunities to advance in my career. During this study abroad experience more than my first one, I have realized that I am very grateful to be American, and have become more aware of the many benefits that the United States provides for its citizens. Leaving home for a while has provided me with more gratitude when I am home, cherishing special moments with loved ones and doing my best to avoid conflict in our limited time together. With another language and greater understanding of world issues from my international classmates in Paris, I have a wealth of knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained had I not studied and lived in Paris. This worldly wisdom will help me as I enter the world of international business and interact with diverse people from around the world.

Going forward, I am reminding myself everyday to be patient with the transition process. I am sharing photos and stories with family and friends to combine my two worlds of being abroad and being home. I am finding comfort in nature, with seasons and sunsets reminding me that there are some parts of life that are constant and foreseeable. And finally, going abroad and returning home again reteaches me the importance of living with an inspirNational mindset, where I find joy in learning from new cultures, seeking new opportunities, and having an open mind to the world around me.

What I Will Miss About Studying in France

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With a blink of an eye, almost four months have passed and I am now at Charles de Gaulle on my way back home. My winter and early spring in France have been some of the most exciting, challenging, and thought-provoking times of my life, and I could not be more grateful to have studied abroad here.

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Every time I go abroad I enjoy reflecting on what I will miss and not miss about the country I have experienced. Below I have captured some of the highlights:

What I will miss about studying in France:

  • Connections to new cultures. By learning French, I am now able to speak the language of 72 million people throughout the world, helping me connect personally with those who speak French. I have found that one of the most rewarding parts of life is connecting with others, and language is the first step in the connection process. My spirits were lifted when I was able to speak French and be understood by others, especially when I started to think in French about a month ago. I am grateful to now be able say more than “bonjour” and “merci” when I travel or work in France, Africa, Canada, the Middle East, and other Francophone regions. As a French student in Paris, it is interesting to think that I actually ended up meeting more foreigners than French people, since the foreigners were in classes with me also learning French. My classmates were from every continent except Antarctica, and often times our only language in common was the one we were learning. Not only did we learn French together, we discussed the differences between our countries and our cultures, related to all facets of life (food, family, history, law, politics, etc.). I was able to connect with so many unique people and develop a better understanding not only of the Francophone world, but of the world of all of my classmates. In many ways I felt like I was in the United  Nations. I truly think that if we all have the opportunity to learn a language or take any class with peers who are different from us, we will develop a better understanding and stronger appreciation for diversity.
  • Freedom to explore. A student by morning, I had the afternoons free to “go wherever the wind blows” as I like to say. Each week I visited a variety of tourist sites, balancing being a tourist with the fact that I needed to rest, stay in touch with loved ones, plan travel, complete administration work for my university, and prepare for my summer internship. It was so refreshing to have some time all to myself with no boundaries except the ones I created. I took advantage of my free time and learned about centuries of history with disciplines spanning from art, to food, to history, to cuisine, to sports, and more. I think it is important for all of us to take a break from our normal regimented routines in order to expand our minds and allow creativity to come to us.
  • Attention to detail. Each French person has/her own specialty and he/she does it well. The boucherie offers excellent meats, the fromagerie offers world-renown cheeses, the vignoble offers wines that make your taste buds smile, and the boulangerie offers breads and pastries better than you would ever imagine. The architect builds some of the most intriguing buildings in the world and the fashion designer creates styles never seen before that change the world of fashion. I will really miss eating gourmet cheese and drinking gourmet wine as part of my regular routine. The  exquisite attention to detail is unlike any other country I have visited before, and inspires me to have my own specialty.
  • Work-life balance. I have observed that the French prioritize life outside of work just as much as work. The strict labor laws in France dictating a maximum of 35 working hours per week encourages the French to spend time with their families and friends, develop new hobbies, and focus on their health and fitness. While our careers are one of the most rewarding parts of our lives, we have to remember that our lives outside of work can also be enriching. This lesson strongly resonated with me when I first studied abroad in Spain and changed my mindset about how I want to organize my life. My experience only helps that lesson grow stronger as I advance in my career and grow older.
  • Ease of travel. With the small size of countries and access to public transportation, you can be in four different countries with four completely different languages in one day. I took advantage of this while in Paris and traveled to Bordeaux, Normandy, Brittany, Strasbourg, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal during the weeekends.

What I will not miss about studying in France:

  • Poor customer service. This was by far my strongest pet peeve, as I often felt mistreated in restaurants and stores. I realize that expectations for customer service vary by country, especially from the United States where tips encourage excellent service. I wish that there was an international code for customer service, ensuring that whether a person is given a tip or not, he/she will treat customers with respect and a friendly attitude.
  • Overgeneralizing about Americans. Almost every day I heard negative comments about Americans. At first, I accepted the comments as many of them were partially true. After a while, though, it became irritating because not all Americans are the same and we have so many positive qualities about us. The United States is fortunate to have one of the best democracies in the world, equal opportunity for all citizens, innovative businesses, one of the best healthcare systems, and the best university education system. I often wondered, if the people who criticized Americans hate us so much, why are they using an iPhone, listening to Justin Bieber, watching American reality TV, following American politics, wearing Nike shoes, and speaking English? I often felt that people made negative comments to follow the bandwagon of what they have heard in the media. With the current United States political election, I recognize that we are on everyone’s radar throughout the world with the controversies discussed on TV. Rather than fighting back, though, I have chosen to demonstrate the positive qualities of Americans by being an ambassador of sorts. This is food for thought for us as you meet others and represent your citizenship!
  • Overcrowded public transportation. The metro and bus system in Paris are fantastic in principle, but they are often so crowded that it is difficult to breath and get on/off the metro/bus. My commute time to class and tourist sites on the metro was not pleasant, and naturally made me have more of a negative attitude. I learned that the metro system has not been updated recently. With a growing population, it will be necessary to add more public transportation options for Parisians and tourists to ensure the safety and health of the population.
  • Public health issues. While smoking in public has decreased immensely in recent years, I was still amazed by how many youth smoke and throw cigarette butts on the streets in Paris. My exposure to second hand smoke was probably equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, which is dangerous! Besides smoking, hygiene was different than I’m used to even after traveling the world, especially oral hygiene. I have learned that oral hygiene is prioritized more in the United States than in other parts of the world, but I hope it becomes more of an international standard. I have learned from my dad (retired dentist) that oral health is significant to overall health.  Overall hygiene, including oral and body odor, will also help make the crowded public transportation more manageable and pleasant for everyone.

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Combining all of my thoughts, I am so grateful for the personal and professional growth I gained from my experience studying in Paris. As always, the people were what made my experience so memorable, and I am happy that social media will enable us to stay connected. I look forward to continue growing and learning about the world as I travel and work abroad throughout my life.

Why Study Abroad More Than Once

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Many of us are confronted with the opportunity to study abroad during our university studies, but what happens if we have an opportunity to study abroad more than once?

My first reaction: Go for it! I was blessed with the opportunity to study Spanish at the University of Salamanca, Spain while an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. I also spent an extended spring break in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil as part of one of my corporate growth strategy classes. Now, I am studying French in Paris as a part of my International MBA program at the University of South Carolina.

Why should you study abroad more than once?

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Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Your first study abroad experience is likely going to include a lot of adjustment. It may be your first time outside of your home country or at least away from home for an extended period of time. With this adjustment comes a lot of time spent on learning how to travel alone, how to adapt to a new culture, how to speak a new language, how to stick to a budget, how to be spontaneous, and the list goes on. You gain a lot of wisdom about  yourself and the world around you when you first study abroad. By studying abroad a second time, you can apply that wisdom you gained to make your next journey smoother and more fun.

With less adjustment related to some of the administrative details of travel, you will be able to focus more on on introspection and personal growth. Studying abroad provides with more time to work on “you” – changing your dietary habits, improving your fitness habits, becoming more multicultural and globally aware, and learning a new language. I have been actively working on enjoying each morsel of food rather than feeling the need to indulge. I am also becoming trilingual and adding France to my list of places where I can live and work one day.

While studying abroad a second time, your priorities will likely change, as every year we grow older (and hopefully wiser :). For example, life circumstances, such as relationships, may make you less focused on dating in your new country and instead experiencing places alone or with your significant other. Perhaps your first study abroad experience you learned that you can’t travel every weekend without feeling stressed. You may realize that you want to travel more or less during your study abroad experience. After my time in Salamanca, where I traveled every weekend, I realized that this time I would prefer to travel less and become fully immersed in the Parisian life. My friends in Paris have also discussed blogging and how they forgot to write about their experiences the first time studying abroad and  would like to share their experiences with their families. In my case, I have decided to change my approach to blogging. While in Spain, I wrote a blog post every day about my agenda and travels. Now in France, I prefer to focus on stories, personal reflections, and lessons that I can share with others.

During my second study abroad experience, I have been much more comfortable with alone time, planning solo travel and  visiting sites independent from my school field trips. This is the result of learning how fascinating solo travel can be, as you can shape your trips according to your own personal interests, you can pause when you want, and most importantly, you can reflect about the world around you. Learn more about why you (especially women) should travel alone in one of my previous posts here. I especially enjoyed last weekend when I traveled to London alone, experiencing the Chunnel for the first time. I stayed with one of my good friends, but she had already visited many of the tourist sites that interested me, so I explored solo. Together we did a Sandemann’s walking tour of London (which I highly recommend!), attended the Phantom of the Opera performance at Her Majesty Theatre, played trivia with the Belsize Rugby Club, and enjoyed fish and chips and Indian cuisine. Then, I visited the Tower of London, Westminister Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London alone. I also went on a solo day trip to Stonehenge, Bath, and Salisbury. I was fascinated to learn about the royal history in London, the primitive culture in Stonehenge, the Roman influence in Bath, and the democratic influence of the Magna Carta at the Salisbury Cathedral. I was able to reflect about all of these curiosities while walking around the sites, taking photographs, and riding on the bus between destinations. I also felt encouraged to meet new people and spark conversations with others attending the tours with me. While on the Golden Tours trip to Stonehenge, Bath, and Salisbury, I met an interesting woman who considered herself to be a global citizen, with a background in Spain, England, the United States, and now Israel. We had a fascinating discussion about life in Israel and the importance of serving your country in order to develop stronger patriotism and respect for all that your country does for you. Had I not traveled solo, I may not have sparked a conversation with her!

My conversation with the woman from Israel reminded me the importance of being a global citizen in today’s interdependent world. Studying abroad more than once will demonstrate to your future employers that you are globally aware, multicultural, adaptable, and potentially multilingual. As companies continue to expand to more countries and we all become more connected through the wonders of modern technology, it is important for all of us to develop global understanding. Studying abroad provides further depth of understanding about the world than a quick vacation, so I strongly encourage you to search for these opportunities while you are a student.

When you are faced with the choice and you have the budget, I hope that you will study abroad at least once. The world is at your finger tips if you are willing to do the research to find affordable travel, housing, and education options! If you are considering studying abroad in Europe, you can learn more about how to travel Europe on a budget here.

Enlightenment from Living in Paris

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Approaching my first two weeks abroad, I already feel that I have had substantial time to reflect on my adventure in Paris. As expected, I have learned a great deal about the French language and culture while in class, living with my host family, visiting tourist sites, and exploring the city. More significantly, though, I have learned about myself and how I can apply my Parisian mindset to my daily life. Below I have captured some of the key lessons that have enlightened me while living abroad in Paris.

  • Eat to enjoy, not to indulge. Many Parisians eat bread and cheese at every meal, and chocolates or pastries after every lunch and dinner. Most of our waistlines are saying “no fair! How is that possible?” This seems contrary to all diet rules we have heard. I eat sweets almost every day now, including crepes with Nutella, creme brulee filled chocolate, coconut cookies, and chocolate waffles. One significant observation is that the portions are a quarter of the size of those in the United States. The smaller portions are encouraging me to enjoy each morsel, rather than feel full after eating sweets. My host sister told me that the average French woman’s BMI is 19, which is on the verge of being underweight.  This reminds me that portion control is key. Rather than restraining ourselves and then indulging too much, we should allow ourselves to enjoy small portions and satisfy our cravings.
  • Look to appreciate, not to just see. Notice differences between your new destination and your home, and learn from them! Tourists are often better at looking to appreciate than locals, especially because tourists experience a series of “firsts” when traveling: “first time seeing the Eiffel Tower,” “first time cruising on the Seine River,” etc. For those living abroad, it becomes easy to overlook our surroundings. We may walk past monuments without appreciating their history. Or we may drive home from work when the sun is setting without noticing the beautiful sky. With the opportunity to visit Paris a second time, and now fully engage with the city as a student, I am focused on appreciating all of my surroundings. I am taking several photos to capture memories. I am reading every sign and researching the significance of the buildings, monuments, and streets around me (centuries of history I should mention). This appreciative outlook is helping me become more understanding of the French culture. I also feel more grateful for the small things that bring me joy and empowered to face adversity in my daily life.
  • Listen to understand, not to judge. While traveling and especially while living abroad, we are constantly encountering new people, which means new perspectives. In various conversations, we will likely hear things that enlighten us, surprise us, or even enrage us when living abroad. I’m surprised by home many expats in Paris I’ve met who have said, “You’re American, why do you need to learn French?” Or “Why are you traveling in Europe? I thought Americans only stayed in the U.S.” I have chosen to listen to their questions respectfully and respond with my genuine interests and goals about learning French. I realized that according to this stereotype about Americans, I might be rare for having the travel bug, eager to learn new languages, and explore new cultures. Rather than judging their assumptions, I am working to be an American ambassador, demonstrating that many Americans do in fact enjoy learning about other languages and cultures.

On a separate but similar note, traveling often forces us to take the role of listener. Particularly when we are learning a new language,  we are still learning how to formulate words to contribute (confidently) to a conversation. This intensive listening is a good exercise particularly for those of us who often voice our opinions. Without having to (or being able to) speak, we become more understanding and less apt to make quick judgments in a conversation.

  • Speak to communicate, not to fight. The world is full of hateful words, and it is easy for us to engage in a fight. We can be more effective by having the objective to communicate and foster understanding in a conversation. This became more apparent to me when I visited the Place Republique in Paris, which has a monument with a memorial for the terrorist attacks in January and November 2015. The memorial speaks volumes about the pain the French felt when attacked over the past year. Hundreds of candles, photos, poems, and letters surround the monument, voicing the Parisian’s sadness, values, and dreams for the future. The memorial has a way of communicating powerful words that inspire the world, rather than engaging in a fight. If we truly want to end the war on terrorism, we need to disengage from the “dirty fight,” respect each other, and not fall victim to the endless fear that terrorists are hoping to provoke. I have faith that goodness will prevail, especially if we can effectively communicate with eachother throughout the world.
  • Live to experience, not to achieve. Every year, I have come closer to the realization that life is a series of experiences, and not necessarily achievement milestones. With the expectation that we will have a series of experiences (and not just accomplishments), we will no longer fear failure. One of my favorite quotes that I recently read was by Nikola Tesla: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We will go through ups and downs, all of which combine to create the experience of life. My time in Paris has been a great example of this “experience” mindset. My first weekend in Paris I went the wrong way on the metro a few times, but it made me learn the “ins and outs” of the metro before beginning school. My phone died a few times and I didn’t have a charger, but it reminded me to pause and look with my own eyes rather than the eyes of my iPhone camera and social media pages. Despite all the changes and new beginnings in 2016, I have a sense of calm within me, solely because I am enjoying considering both positive and negative moments as life experiences.

I hope these inspirNational lessons I have learned while living in Paris can inspire you too. What other enlightenment have you experienced while living abroad?

Expectations of Paris

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It’s real! It only became real very recently…as I am now on the airplane and only 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Paris. I’ve spent the first few hours of my flight eating great food (kudos to Delta for the delicious dinner and breakfast, with healthy options, perfect portions, and my all-time favorite Biscoff cookies). I watched The Intern in French to get the French language gears moving again in my head. I’m currently listening to Brigitte “A Bouche que veux-tu” while writing. With reality sinking in, I finally feel excited. I’ve spent months preparing for my trip. From deciding whether I want to learn French, to studying basic French for the past six months, to undergoing the visa process, to packing from South Carolina to Michigan to now France, I am grateful to say that my trip has arrived! I will be studying in Paris at France Langue from now until April. I look forward to sharing my Parisienne insights on inspirNational!

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My Delta flight view!

What are my expectations of myself in Paris? 

To grow bigger eyes and ears. I will be looking at every scene, every interaction and cultural event in front of me. I will be listening attentively to every word, every street sound, and every action in Paris to fully be able to learn the French language and how to be French.

To sit at cafes and “people watch.” I am envisioning spending afternoons between classes eating a chocolate filled croissant, drinking espresso out of a tiny porcelain cup (according to American standards), and watching stylishly dressed people walking past me. This expectation is partly based on reality, as I experienced this in Paris during a Trafalgar tour in 2011. It is also the dream I’ve had about actually living in Paris.

To appreciate the finer things in life. Based on my understanding of French luxuries, small but high quality portions of food, among other things, I am guessing that I will learn to appreciate having less, but better quality things in my life. Rather than ten purses, I may have only one, for example, such as Louis Vuitton (or as that just wishful thinking ;))? I expect to go shopping at stores that are beyond my budget, including the latest cutting edge fashion stores, best international cuisine restaurants, bakeries, and perfumeries. To me, French business automatically has a stamp of luxury and high quality, but also high prices. I’ll be curious to see if my expectations are reality.

To become Parisienne. This may be optimistic, but I believe it is possible! I’m excited to live and breathe the French culture. I will be living with a French host family in the 16th district. I look forward to learning from them – the father is an ENT surgeon, the mother is a WWF director, and they have four children, one of whom lives with them. I have heard that their neighborhood is one of the wealthiest in Paris, so this will provide me with an interesting perspective. Friends have warned me that Parisiennes may be cold to me because I am not French, but I am going to challenge myself to blend in, be respectful, and use French as much as possible to hopefully have positive interactions with the Parisiennes. I am hoping that the homestay will help bridge the gap between being a tourist and being a local in France.

For those of you have lived in France, what was it like living there and do you have any advice as I begin my journey? Merci et bon voyage!