In 5 days, I’ll depart for Paris, where I’ll spend the semester studying abroad. I’m starting this blog as a way for me to update friends and family (probably mostly my mom, who I know will obsessively check this site at least once a day) on all my adventures. I’ll also use it to reflect, kind of in lieu of a travel journal. For those of you who don’t know, “Mes Voyages et Ma Vie” is simply translated into English as “My Travels and My Life.” I’m using this all-encompassing title in order to allow myself the freedom to discuss whatever us on my mind and hopefully continue with updates on my life even once this semester abroad concludes.
I’ve been to France once before on a three-week immersion program with my high school the summer after my sophomore year (2014). I spent a total of a week in Paris and two weeks in the small town of Amboise taking French classes and sightseeing. I decided to return to Paris for my semester abroad because not only do I love the city and want to spend more time getting to know it and its culture, but this is what will help me reach my goal of becoming fluent in the language as quickly as possible.
So, wondering what’s in store for me this semester? I am enrolled as an exchange student at Sciences Po, one of the top schools for political science in the world. The classes I have scheduled range from French constitutional law to media and public opinion in France, and everything will be taught in French. This language barrier will undoubtedly provide challenges, even after I have taken French classes for seven years, but overall, I’m excited for the opportunity to take all my courses, not just one or two like I’m used to, in French. I’m sure that Sciences Po will introduce me to many people and activities in addition to impacting my education, all while shaping me into a more global citizen.
In addition, it just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t take on too much, so I recently accepted a position working remotely as a Public Affairs eIntern for the US Agency for International Development. After my marketing/PR internships this past summer, I realized that I want to pursue a career path that involves politics and international affairs in addition to communications, so I hope that this experience strikes that balance. Through the VSFS program, I’ll spend about 10 hours a week for the entire school year on various projects assigned to me by USAID. Working for a US government agency while abroad, and then while back in the US, will give me a unique perspective; I am intrigued to see how it affects my career interests and goals.
While I know that my coursework and internship will take up a great deal of my time and energy, I’m also prepared to get this done during the week and spend weekends and other breaks traveling and exploring new parts of Paris. I was even able to isolate my courses to Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday to better facilitate this. France is in such close proximity to so many amazing cities and countries that it would be a wasted opportunity to not take advantage of this. I do also, however, want to make sure I allow myself enough time in Paris and other cities in France in order to ensure that I’m immersing myself in the culture and really learning about everything the country has to offer.
This is only the beginning of what I have planned for this semester. There are still many (so many!) unknowns, so I’m trying to keep my expectations under control, but I’m excited to take you along with me on this journey. Get ready to hear about new people, good food, language issues, coursework, trips, mistakes, and my reflections on all of this and more. Et ce semestre est seulement une petite partie de mes voyages et de ma vie.
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