Before you leave your country for the first time you have a narrow view of what the world means outside of what’s in your backyard. Everyone stands to gain something from traveling to different places around the world. Traveling abroad has opened my eyes to how domestic my thoughts were and challenged my way of thinking about the world. When I first landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, as soon as my bags were put away I had this rush to complete all the touristy things that everyone talks about when visiting a new place unfamiliar to their own home. The first thing I visited in the city was not the Eiffel Tower, which was contrary to what most people would ask about. The first place I visited was Notre Dame Cathedral while it was heavily guarded by the military and under reconstruction after the most recent fire outbreak. Next, I tried several pastries and crêpes. I went through Champ Élysées, and took pictures at the Arc de Triomphe. Then, I visited the infamous Eiffel Tower, which was way better than anyone could have described.

Going about your day through the city, and walking pass a building and seeing the Eiffel Tower is one of the best feelings while in Paris. However, when you’re visiting a place for a semester you quickly run out of ordinary tourist things to do, so then the question of what next arises. I personally took several day trips to other cities outside of Paris to get the whole France experience. A few notable things I have done are seeing Leonardo di Vinci’s house as well as seeing the gardens at Le Château de Maisons-Laffitte. After you mentally set in to another country you start to blend in unconsciously to what everyone is doing. You walk like everyone else, you try and talk like everyone else, you jaywalk across the streets like everyone else, and you become a Parisian without trying to be.

Studying abroad is a perspective altering experience that not only grants you the culture shock of seeing another place real-time, but engulfs you into that civilization so much so that you feel a responsibility to continue their habits while on foreign soil. Upon the last days of your study abroad travels, you might feel a yearning desire to forfeit you plane ticket and continue your stay. This is the underlying negative effect that you will encounter that your trip is finite, however this feeling solidifies the truth that you are a traveler. And, this will not be your last encounter with other cultures and societies. In conclusion, if you are given the opportunity to study abroad, you should definitely take it. The effects that traveling abroad will have on you will last a lifetime, and hopefully spark a fire to continue traveling the world looking for new cultures to explore. This trip has sparked my interest, and I’m looking to travel again before this year ends somewhere different.

Thaddeus Mattox is majoring in Engineering (Tech Management) and spent the Summer 2019 semester studying abroad in Paris, France through CIEE

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