My Study Abroad Experience in France

I took advantage of Missouri S&T’s study abroad program to take a trip to Paris and study the history of war and its influence on French culture.  I learned a whole lot more than factual information during my time in Paris and Normandy.  I understand how differently people live in countries other than the US and how to meet people.  I have never been a shy person but it was a little intimidating to try to talk to someone in a non-English-speaking country. Cultural understanding and self-confidence were what I got out of my trip to France.

The majority of all people are nice and willing to help but sometimes it took boldness and persistence to get the information I have needed.  It was not easy finding my way around Paris; I even managed to get lost for four hours once.  It can be a little intimidating to approach somebody the first time but after the 20th or 30th I had fear of no one!  That being said, I was still careful as to who I would approach and I learned that I have to be more aware of my surroundings in a big city.  I was able to meet some people who were nice enough to help me find my way back to my hotel and nothing unfortunate happened.  All in all I feel more in control of the situations I get myself into and I have come to the conclusion that Paris is a relatively safe town.

France has a long history of conflicts and war.  I spent most of my time studying in Paris but I also visited the trenches and Normandy, too.  Hard evidence of past conflicts, such as stray bullet shots in the cement or brick structures, were visible.  The French people have a lot of respect and treat the graveyards of the fallen soldiers as hallowed ground.  They also seem to still be ashamed of the actions of some of the French citizens who collaborated with the Vichy government.  While they were ashamed of the collaborators, the French lift up and honor the French Resistance fighters.  It seems like the French people, the older generations at least, still bear the shame for some things that occurred in France during WWII and will continue to until the next couple generations pass on.

This trip has been a lot of fun and I would do it again if possible.  Since I am required to do an internship before I graduate this was probably my only chance to experience studying in another country.  The opportunity presented itself and I took it.  This trip was definitely worth it.