CT Dialogue: Adventures In France
Want to know what it is like to study abroad in France? University of Indianapolis Sophomore Maddy Mahoney tells about her French experiences.
Where did you go? Why did you choose that place?
I went to Nice, Monaco, Avignon and Paris. I took French in high school and it seemed like a fun experience to be able to go and learn about the culture.
What were your living arrangements like?
I stayed in hotels with 3 other girls in my room. Our hotel came with breakfast and in Paris, our hotel had kitchens, so we cooked meals sometimes.
Were you in the city or on the outside? How did you travel around?
In Nice, we were in the city, but in Paris we were outside in the business district. When we traveled from Nice to Avignon, we had a coach bus. From Avignon to Paris, we took the train. Once we were in Paris, we used the metro to go everywhere.
How did you live like a local and embrace the culture?
I tried to speak as much French as possible, but the natives knew I wasn’t great so they tried to help out by speaking English, especially in Paris. I also tried a lot of new food when we would eat at restaurants. My favorites were the duck and lamb!
Was there a favorite shop or local business that you loved going into?
In Nice, there was a soap shop with homemade soaps on every wall! They had all types of shapes, from cats to hearts to ducks. I thought it was a very unique shop and really cute.
What was the most amazing cultural experience that you had?
We left for the trip on my birthday but I didn’t say anything about it. On the last day in Paris at one of the restaurants, one of our leaders started singing “Happy Birthday” to me in English. Then the whole restaurant sang it to me in French and after that, a group of people at the table nearby sang it to me in Spanish. It was so cool because I have never had people sing “Happy Birthday” to me in 3 languages. It was really special.
I also really wanted to see La Madeleine, which is a church in Paris, because it has my name in it and it was beautiful.
What are the top 5 sites to see?
The Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco is amazing! It is right by the water and the views are breathtaking! There are so many expensive cars and hotels around it and it’s really cool to see. It is free to go in, but you have to be 21.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, of course! At night it is spectacular with all of the lights. It is free to look at, but if you want to go inside there is a small fee. You can go in for 9 Euros and climb the stairs or pay a little more and take the elevator.
The Lourve in Paris is a must-see! It is home to the Mona Lisa and so many other pieces of amazing art! There is so much rich history inside as well. It costs 15 Euros to go in, but is definitely worth it.
The Sacre-Coeur in Paris. Also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, it is a Roman-Catholic church with beautiful architecture. The church is on a hill and has breathtaking views overlooking the Paris artist district. Admission is free for all churches in Paris.
The Mediterranean Sea/beaches in Nice. They are beautiful and so different from the beaches in the U.S. The water is very blue and they have rocks instead of sand. The beaches are free and are a great place to take a study break!
How has this study-abroad experience impacted your personal growth?
I have become more aware and accepting of other cultures and differences. I am also more appreciative of what I have. I learned a lot about the differences between France and the U.S. I also became more independent because we had some free days to explore the city and I had to learn how to navigate myself through a new place. Figuring out the metro is very different when you are with just your friends and not a chaperone.
What advice would you give yourself now, after experiencing your trip?
Definitely pack lighter. I wanted to bring back a lot of souvenirs but didn’t have much room. I would also say take less photos and just be in the moment. Memories are priceless and while photos are nice, they don’t do justice to some of the sights. Also make sure you know which gestures have different meanings in other countries.
Why is study abroad so important?
People should go abroad because it is such an eye-opening experience. You get to learn so much about other cultures and differences in lifestyles. Seeing the ways that people in other places dress or what they eat is incredible and something that can’t be taught in a classroom. You need to get out and experience it for yourself.