The view from the top of Montmartre, in front of Sacré-Cœur. Absolutely beautiful!

The view from the top of Montmartre, in front of Sacré-Cœur. Absolutely beautiful!

Paris is a huge city! In order to run more effectively this large city is split into twenty arrondissements municipaux which are really just smaller administrative districts each with their own mayor. Each of these arrondissements has its own culture and personality. This is especially true of the 18th arrondissement, which is on the outskirts of the city and also the home of Montmartre.

Montmartre is the name of a 130m high hill plus the surrounding neighborhood and it has definitively been one of my favorite parts of Paris thus far. Historically speaking, in the context of war, which is a large portion of our class, the height of this area has played greatly into its importance strategically in many wars throughout French history. The view of Paris from the top is breathtaking. I would even say it rivals the view from the Eiffel Tower. It is also very well known by the presence of Sacré Cœur since it was completed in 1914, where again the height was significant in making this hill a wonderful location for such a holy place.  [Read more…]

Paris, Week Two

Week two of our study abroad trip is already behind us. As a teacher, it has been rewarding to see how far the students have come in their abilities to navigate around the city, order food by themselves, interact with locals, and communicate in basic French. In addition, students have become much more adept at “reading” the landscape around them. When they first arrived, they walked by many types of war memorials without noticing them. Memorials are in plain view throughout the city, but with so many other visual elements competing for attention—people, advertisements, stores, sculptures, architecture, traffic—they can escape attention.

[Read more…]

Mont-Valérien: A French Perspective


The eternal flame at Mt. Valérien

At the beginning of the trip to Mont-Valérien we traveled to an area just outside of the city of Paris. We walked up a hill towards the fort, and at the entrance we saw a giant wall and an open area in front. The area in front was symbolic of France in the fact that it was made to represent the French flag. The steps were blue, the middle was beige to represent white, and the path around the middle was red. The flame in front was called the “eternal flame” which burns in memory of the Resistance. [The Resistance leader Charles DeGaulle dedicated the memorial site on 18 June 1960, the anniversary of his call for Resistance from London.]

[Read more…]

Personal Experience in Paris

Today is Wednesday the fifth of June and it seems so long ago since leaving the States, even though it was only eleven days ago. Paris is easy to get caught up in, with the culture being a whirlwind of excitement and fast-paced life, hiding little nooks of quietness. It is surprisingly easy to function in Paris, even when you let slip English, but personally, I have made a few blunders. It was funny sitting in a café trying to order something in French and the waiter just switches over to English to make things less awkward. I’m also becoming extremely attached to the Metro, it’s so convenient and easy to navigate once one gets the hang of the system layout. Outside of the usual class activities, I just wandered around the city last weekend, exploring various side alleys near Notre Dame. The best part about that adventure was finding this amazing little shop called Bertie’s CupCakery, which sells oddly flavored cupcakes until either closing time or they sell out. The shop is owned by a young woman that moved to Paris from Virginia, in the U.S., so ordering in English is perfectly fine. The cupcakes are the best I’ve ever had – I recommend the Nutella and Oreo flavors.

Bertie's CupCakery - Only a few blocks from Notre Dame

Bertie’s CupCakery – Only a few blocks from Notre Dame

Later that same day, I wandered by the Eiffel Tower and, deciding to fulfill a childhood dream, rode the carousal next to the tower. Spinning in the tea cup going the opposite direction of the carousal is very fun, but I nearly fell off the steps from dizziness while disembarking and made quite a few French children laugh.

The carousal next to the Eiffel Tower is two stories with a curved staircase. Some of the horses also have bike pedals attached for no reason other that to pedal while riding.

The carousel next to the Eiffel Tower is two stories with a curved staircase. Some of the horses also have bike pedals attached for no reason other than to pedal while riding.

Now moving on to the Eiffel Tower itself, I just went to the top today! I’m terribly afraid of heights, but being at the top of the tower was so amazing that I felt no fear.

Looking straight down from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Looking straight down from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Seeing the cloud shadows float by over the city, shading various sections, seeing from the sky different monuments the Missouri S&T students had visited, the living traffic below becoming an integrated hum – everything came together. It’s hard to describe, but the feeling of seeing the world from above just filled me with such a peaceful energy. After I left the Eiffel Tower though, I witnessed the police, clubs in hand, chasing illegal street vendors down the Trocadéro steps – that was both hilarious and sad.

A panoramic view from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Last experience of staying in Paris these past eleven days: the nights. I’m not one to party or go out late at night, never found a joy in that, but observing the night life from the apartment windows is both funny and horrifying. It gets excessively hot in the third-floor room I share with my roommates, so we leave a window open, but by doing so you can hear everything. It seems recently a group of French guys have taken a liking to gathering in the alley below, but they like to play thumping music, drink, and play soccer. One early morning, a film crew was in the alley and they were actually filming a scene for a French movie. In total, you can never really know what you’ll find in Paris until you explore!

Jean Moulin at the Pantheon

On Monday we visited the Pantheon where important people such as Jean Moulin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Victor Hugo are buried.

[Read more…]

Itinerary: Week 2

Will and Delancey are serenaded at the welcome dinner

Will and Delancey are serenaded at the welcome dinner

We had a busy first week, and we have more in store for Week 2! During the first week, we focused a lot on the Great War and on getting settled in a new city. Paris is a huge cosmopolitan center and it’s an adjustment for many people: new place, different language, diverse culture, distinct foods.

[Read more…]

My Europe Experience

WWI Memorial in Rome

WWI Memorial in Rome

It is the end of week 1 in France. I came to Europe early and my first stop was Italy. The trip to Italy was not what I expected at all. In places where there seems to be a lot of tourism, people tend to speak English. This was not the case in Italy. The public transportation in Italy is also not as expansive as in other major cities. These were the challenges Courtney C. and I took head on.

We did prevail and manage to see some pretty amazing things! Even things that would pertain to our class in Paris. In Italy they have memorials set up around the city just as they do here in Paris. [Read more…]

Finding Myself Abroad

070Coming to France was not a big culture shock, but it sure is different from American culture.  I have had many different experiences with their culture, such as how to eat for one example.  French people seem more sophisticated when it comes to eating food.  They eat their pizza with a fork and knife, which is different from picking it up with your hands and eating it, which is what I do and still do over here after using the fork and knife for a little bit.  Another thing French people do with food is eat their fries with a fork using mayonnaise as a dipping sauce instead of ketchup.  This seemed weird to me, but I tried the mayonnaise with the fries and it tasted okay.  The French also eat meals slower than Americans do.  They will sit down for a meal at dinner time for several hours and slowly eat their meal; they do not rush through it and the restaurant owners are not as worried about flipping tables as quickly as the American restaurants do.

Now a place where the French are not slow is on the metro moving about the city.  People will run you over to get on a train and will get frustrated with you if you move slowly in front of them and they cannot get around you.  Once on the train people will rush for an open seat. To avoid that I just stand because it is easier.  The metro system as a whole though was somewhat frightening to use at first, but after that it turned out to be very simple to use even if you do not speak French.

075I believe that the biggest thing that has shocked me the most is having everyone around me speak a different language.  I knew this would happen because of course I am in France, but I did not realize how relieved I would be when I started going to different tourist sites and being excited when I heard someone else speak English who was not part of our group.  Now some of the French people do speak English, but they learn  British English, so when they ask you for fries they say chips instead, which is different, but easy to understand. [Dr. Langston’s edit: there are all kinds of English accents here, not just British.]

I am excited for many of the different things we have planned for the next two weeks here in France and for many more experiences I am bound to have.  If you are thinking about doing a study abroad experience later in your school career I would certainly recommend it.  You will meet many new and different people, even people whom you go to school with and have never seen. You will bond almost instantly.

Discovering the World


Courtney and Courtney in the metro

I was extremely exited to have this opportunity to leave the United States and come to Paris. Upon my arrival, I was immediately immersed in the true definition of French culture. We did end up having some trouble getting into our hotel, and finding it. Once we finally got out of the metro, we realized that we had no idea how to get there, and both of our phones had died from the plane ride and so we had to go to the nearest restaurant to charge our phones and use the wifi because we were lost in a new city. However once we finally got settled, I could then begin to appreciate the way of the French. I was very relieved to find out that most French people are super nice, and friendly, especially when I need to ask for directions, which I did have to do  many times my first few days in the city, even still sometimes. France is a very beautiful county, and I was not aware, but am now, of how much history there is here. You don’t even have to look for it, as it is everywhere. Even on the way to my hotel, we passed a beautiful, old and Gothic-looking church, and I did not think about it at the time, but now that I do, that building is probably older than America, which is a very perspective-altering thing to realize. Being brought up in such a young nation really shelters my knowledge of the history of the world. Also on one of the tours that we got the privilege to take, our tour guide pointed out the very first Gothic building ever to have been erected. This really fascinated me as I love architecture and the different styles of buildings that the world has seen. I look forward to learning so much more about the history, memory, and culture of France.

Life in Paris – Week 1

The first week of our program has ended already! Sometimes time just passes too quickly when you are exploring a new place.

My experience so far has been interesting, fascinating, surprising, and amusing at times. This is the first time I have been to Europe, so everything is new to me. The first day I arrived I was lost within the first 10 minutes. I must admit though, I have a horrible sense of direction so take this with a grain of salt.

Paris is surprisingly easy to travel through using the metro but I have never used a metro system like it. I would imagine that large cities like New York would have something like it. I am originally from Atlanta, GA and we do not have such an amazing public transportation system.

The people of France have been very kind, and I can only imagine how many visitors they receive. Every time I go to a hot tourist spot like the Louvre, you can hear people speaking languages from all over the world. I have heard German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese just to name a few. The tourists are often stumbling along with me when we try to speak French, so I no longer feel nervous when I have to ask if someone speaks English.

My final thoughts, of course, have to be about the food. I am a food person. I adore good food, and I can now officially say that no one can make sweets, cheese, or bread like the French. I find myself trying new things off the menus to discover a new meat or preparation at a cafe or Bistro, and I have yet to be disappointed. Today at the Angelina Restaurant in Versailles I ordered cœur de saumon fumé sélection astara even though I had no idea what it was. I do not regret it!

For breakfast they have sweets like a croissant with chocolate and muffins. For snacks they have sandwiches that are rich in herbs, meats, and cheeses. For dinner you can find almost any type of food in Paris! The culture is overwhelming and amazing!

georginna2013-05-29 16.27.59Check out chocolates at the Louvre! Don’t they look irresistible!

I could get used to this beautiful country…

-Georginna Quiros