Let me start with an introduction. My name is Halana Dash and I’m a Temple sophomore from Abington, PA. My study abroad trip to Paris this summer marks my first time outside of the U.S. (except for a disastrous family trip to the Canadian half of Niagara Falls involving carsickness, a 3 am fire alarm, a lost wallet, and an expulsion from a museum…but I try to forget about that.)
I’ve studied French since seventh grade, and I think every serious French student dreams about visiting France—it’s a pilgrimage, an essential experience. At least I did, but maybe that’s just because I grew up on Madeline and The Aristocats and am obsessed with The Lost Generation. Paris has always been in the back of my mind.
In high school I pictured myself traveling to France much later than the summer after freshman year (!!!) and it still feels a little surreal. Just eighteen hours ago I was on a plane to Paris, my dream destination, gushing about my excitement for the trip to my very patient seat mate. My fear of planes and heights and horrible traveling accidents did not even surface!
I had grand perceptions of Paris, mostly over-romanticized things from books and movies. In Paris, I would walk along the Seine in the rain, sit in cafes where Stein and Fitzgerald and Dali used to talk, eat fresh baguettes every waking minute (I wasn’t 100% wrong about the baguettes). As an undeclared sophomore, I also had this naïve and cliché vision that Paris would strike me with inspiration, and suddenly I would know exactly what to do with my life (and my liberal arts degree). We’ll see if this comes true—since I’ve never left the Philly area for a long period of time, a change of scenery, in one of the most inspirational and cultural cities in the world, might be just what I need to finally find a major.
On a more practical level, my trip lasts four weeks and consists of taking classes at the Sorbonne, a famous French university, exploring the city with my fellow Temple travelers, and taking lots of touristy pictures (although a tourist did think I was a native Parisian today, so I must be doing something right). I am living at the Foyer des International Etudiantes (a hostel for female students during the year, and for international travelers in the summer months), which is right down the street from the Sorbonne in Paris’ Latin Quarter, on the Boulevard St.-Michel ( a very pricey area hotel-wise, but a very cheap option for student housing). The Foyer was founded in 1906 and rebuilt in 1928, and has a lovely rustic, vintage, and quaint Parisian feel. Each room is slightly different and everything is made out of old wood. It also features a single communal toilet for each floor, showers with lovely see-through doors, and extremely thin walls, but unbelievably these only add to the charm. The library and rooftop terrace also offer stunning views of the city.
My charming double room in the Foyer, stunning rooftop view of Paris, and one of many small cafés lining the streets.
Classes don’t begin until tomorrow, July 3rd, so I’ve had a few days to get used to my jetlag and, more importantly, my neighborhood, which features les Jardins du Luxembourg (the famous Luxembourg Gardens), the Sorbonne, the River Seine and Notre Dame, and many other landmarks and is lined with charming cafes that can be described only as Parisian. In my next post, I will detail more of my everyday observances, especially the differences between American and French culture—merci for reading!
À tout a l’heure!