Going into my studying abroad experience in Paris, I truly had no expectations in place. While I did have some hopes such as improving my skills in the French language and immersing myself in the culture of the city, I really did not know what to expect from the four months I would spend abroad in the European Union. Luckily, I opted in for a shared room in my homestay and immediately felt more at ease in a household where English was rarely spoken. Along with the comfort of a roommate, I also found myself appreciating being surrounded by other students who prioritized and valued broadening their own world view and perspective. I found myself growing and being pulled out of my “normal.” I would like to think of myself as an open-minded person– one who is not quick to judge or who only sees my opinions as truth. Yet by studying abroad, everything I had known suddenly changed after learning more about different ways of life.
I was immersed in not only the culture of Paris, but the culture of so many other countries on account of the international students. I have been able form deep friendships with people all around the world and it is all thanks to the opportunities studying abroad offers. While being in a country within the European Union, I was able to easily travel to other countries and expose myself to even more architecture, music, art, and foreign customs. It also helped that the museums and historical monuments in France are super affordable due to student discounts, if not completely free. The history and opportunity to learn about the country’s culture was so accessible and added to the experience.
Studying abroad through a third party program such as AIFS also made my living in another country for a semester more seamless and less problematic. I was able to contact my resident advisors with any questions I was too embarrassed to ask my host family and any other situations I did not expect to find myself in. When my roommate had to go to the ER and find an English speaking doctor, our resident directors assisted us. They were also wonderful aids when it came to communicating with our university in Paris. AIFS also provided excursions outside of Paris which added different aspects of French culture to my time abroad. Overall, AIFS was a program that was useful and offered convenience to an experience that is otherwise very stressful and complicated.
Living in another country for almost five months was overwhelming and exciting and inspiring all at the same time. My 2022 spring semester was one I will never forget and will always be grateful for. I was constantly inspired by those around me and truly found myself wanting to fully understand every culture I was exposed to. I learned about a part of history I never thought I would be able to and met people I never would have otherwise. Studying abroad has given me so much and I truly recommend it to everyone.
Mackayla Wall (BS Economics) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Paris, France through AIFS. Mackayla had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad is the most affordable way to see the world and experience other cultures. It is a way to grow as a person, broaden your world view, and strengthen empathy.”
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