A Yalie in Paris

The Eiffel Tower at night.

Last you heard from this traveling blogger, I was discussing the meaning of a deferral (if you haven’t seen it, do check it out, and I hope you guys are holding in there).  But behind the scenes, I was also scrambling to finish my papers, studying for finals, packing up my room at Yale, and jumping through hoops to obtain a French visa (French bureaucracy… yeesh) before the 15th of January.

 That’s right, Emily has left the country; I am currently studying abroad in the City of Light, of Love, and the best falafel you will ever have (L’As du Falafel - believe the hype)!  I’m a little unusual by Yale standards because I chose to study abroad during the school year (While nearly 100% of students go abroad at some point during their Yale careers, most choose to do so during the summer, due to generous financial aid and fellowship opportunities.), and furthermore, as a sophomore.  However, upon my return from Ghana, I knew it was something that I had to do. Thus after a process of deciding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, I ended up in Paris with a program that allows me to directly enroll in the French higher educational system for a semester. 

 It’s incredibly easy to study abroad with the help of the Yale Center for International and Professional Experience.  The study abroad advisors were enormously helpful for figuring out exactly what I wanted out of the experience, selecting the right program, and finally, ensuring that all pre-departure preparations (from transferring financial aid to obtaining the proper vaccinations) where taken care of.

 About 50 students are currently abroad this semester, scattered across the globe from China to South Africa.  Five other Yalies are with me in the same program here in Paris. While I hadn’t known any of them before I started, we’ve all become fast friends.  That said, I’ve also made (and look forward to making many more) French friends and acquaintances, and I cannot stress what an immersive experience this will be.  I’m living in a home-stay just outside the 15th arrondissement, and will be taking all of my classes entirely in French.  I’ll also be interacting with my peers and professors, writing my papers, and attempting to be social entirely in French… To be honest, it’s more than a little daunting!  I’ve been in France for just over two weeks, and we’re just finishing up our orientation and course selection process.  If all goes according to plan, I will be able to officially say I’m a real Parisian student in T-1 days, when classes officially start at Universite Paris IV - Sorbonne.

 A common pre-departure concern for study abroad students is, “What if I miss out on an eighth of my Yale experience by being away for a semester?” I would counter that by saying being a Yale student is not just about living on campus and taking classes with Yale professors.  An enormous part of what it means to “be a Yale student” is being willing to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and to pursue these opportunities with curiosity and drive.  Being abroad is an enormous academic and intellectual challenge that requires a high level of maturity and independence. In that sense, I see studying abroad as totally in sync with the rest of my normal Yale modus operandi.  While it was difficult to leave my friends, my extracurricular activities, and my research project at my lab behind for a semester, this European adventure will no doubt be one of the highlights of my college experience.