The Catholic University of America

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. Travel- IES Paris takes you on organized trips to visit other parts of France. Being in Europe also opens the doors to visit other countries; I was also able to visit Spain!
  2. Practice- Paris is a wonderful city and I wanted to improve my speaking and writing skills. Full emersion is the best way to learn.
  3. Growth- Living so far away from my family in a foreign country helped me grow as an individual and become more independent. I wasn’t able to call my mom right away whenever I had a problem; I had to learn to solve it myself.
  4. Experience- The experiences I gained during my semester abroad will be with me forever and I will be able to apply the lessons I learned from them at whatever job I hold in the future.
  5. Friendships- I met many new people while studying abroad, both French and American. I also grew closer to people from CUA who also studied abroad, even if they were in a different country.

 

What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  • Europeans will try to practice their English with you if you give them the chance! It’s terrible for people who are studying a country to improve their speaking skills, so just let them know that you would prefer to speak in their language and they’ll switch right back.
  • Pick pocketing is more common in Europe than in the US.
  • Public gyms don’t really exist there.
  • The French will keep refilling your wine glass unless you stop them.
  • It takes about a week to get over jetlag, so give yourself some time.

 

A Funny Story or Situation

The Pigeon Has the Right of Way

One of the cultural differences between France and the US that I experienced was a rather unique one that I was not expecting. While visiting the Palace of Versailles with friends I encountered an interesting pigeon. After having spent a few months in Paris I learned quickly that French pigeons are not as afraid of humans and cars as they are in the US. The pigeon that I encountered at Versailles was about to cross my path, so in an attempt not to run over it I sped up thinking it would be able to cross behind me. However, the pigeon clearly did not appreciate this and decided to pick up his pace. Once he got closer to me instead of crossing me he decided to line up next to me and run. The pigeon was racing me! I couldn’t believe it. The situation was so funny that I stopped to laugh and let the pigeon cross and continue on his way.

 

An Embarrassing Situation

A few of my friends and I decided to visit Barcelona, Spain for our spring break. Our second night there we decided to go out and explore the city, however, I was not aware that it is a bad idea to wear gold jewelry late at night, even if it’s not flashy. While my friends and I were walking we saw a young man about our age walking towards us, so out of courtesy I moved up on the sidewalk for him to pass as my friends continued walking on the road. This was a terrible idea. Unfortunately, in my act of kindness I distanced myself from my friends and the stranger saw this as an opportunity to attack me and try to steal my necklace. I was able to hold his hand a good distance from my neck just long enough that a man standing inside the store we were by saw what was happening. He began to yell at the stranger in Catalan and the unwanted attention made him run off and leave me alone. The rest of my trip I was wise enough to keep on small earrings and nothing else.

 

The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

My grammar professor, Veronique Teyssandier, is definitely the professor from whom I learned the most. She not only taught me a lot on French grammar, but had us present weekly articles on French events. This kept us up to date on what was going on and introduced us to French culture.

 

Housing

I definitely recommend living with a host family. It is the best way to be emerged into the culture of whatever country you are living in. I had a wonderful experience with my host mother. She was a friendly old woman who shared stories with us (another CUA student was living with us) about what France was like in her day.

Student Profile:

Major: Politics

Hometown: Ashburn, VA

Program: Paris, IES Abroad French Studies Program

Term Abroad: Spring 2011

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