1) Break out of your shell
Travel is one of the most effective ways to learn to live and thrive outside of your comfort zone. Throw in travelling with 15 other like-minded students and you will quickly learn to flourish alongside one another. In two short weeks in the beautiful city of lights every single one of us has made life long friends and treasured memories, whilst learning new things about ourselves and attempting to live like true Parisians!
2) Embrace new cultures
One of the French students we are lucky enough to have the pleasure of joining us on this experience asked early in the piece, “what do you Aussies think of us French?” We responded with an array of accusations, ‘you eat snails and frogs’ ‘you ride bikes everywhere wearing berets’ ‘you wear stripes everyday and everybody smokes.’ Whilst it was all a laugh it got me thinking about the way I had imagined my experience in Paris versus the reality that was unfolding. Going on exchange rather than just travelling to Paris has allowed us to truly embrace and begin to understand the French culture.
3) Enjoy life like never before
What a wonderful thing it is in life to be able to walk among people living the same life as you on the other side of the world. From the laughs through to the homesickness and those moments where you stop and realize what an incredible experience you are having, you really do see life in light that you haven’t before.
4) Satisfy your stomach
Where to begin! France is famous for many foods, frogs legs, snails, croissants, macaroons, baguettes, the list goes on. However, it is not until you stay in Paris for an extended period of time that you can really try them all and try them all properly! St John’s University accommodation was conveniently located directly across the street from La Grande Epicerie Paris, this is a gourmet food supermarket like nothing else. Visits became more and more frequent to the point where daily visits were just not enough.
6) Pick up a new language
Bonjour mon ami! (Hello my friends!) the best greeting to receive from your new found friends, in your new found language, in your new found city! Along with the essentials Jai voudrais dix croissant sil vous plait! (I would like 10 croissants please!) Our ‘survival’ French lessons were definitely a highlight and allowed us to immerse ourselves further into the French culture! Sometimes even allowing us to fool local Frenchies into believing we speak the language.
7) Admire true beauty
Paris is full of magnificent sites, tourist attractions and famous landmarks, however some of the most amazing things you will see will be far less obvious at first glance. The incredible history behind so much of the city as well as the stories and narratives which accompany it, the stunning architecture that never gets tired and some of the most beautiful gardens you will ever see are everywhere to be found in Paris.
Merci beaucoup ACU for this extraordinary experience!