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So, What's Next?

June 01, 2017
by Hannah Kersey
The semester is coming to a close and I'm studying for finals, thinking about how I'm going to fit everything in my suitcase, and saying goodbye to my favorite places in Paris. It felt like yesterday that I arrived weary-eyed and ready for an exciting experience, and what I experienced was truly life-changing. At the beginning of the semester, the CEA Staff and the Paris Center lead us through an intentional orientation to try to help us understand what we would encounter and how to process our time abroad. I remember feeling very confident in my knowledge of the French culture because I had read books and articles, listened to podcasts, and soaked up any bit of information as I could, but nothing would quite prepare me for actually living in France. I did not only discover how to live like a Parisian but also how to live as a citizen of the world.
 Tuileries Garden

Living outside of the United States has given me a new perspective about the world because instead of thinking inward about myself, my community, and my environment, I now think outwardly about how my thoughts and actions go beyond what I reach. For example, I have grown much more conscious of how much plastic I use since moving to Paris. This city is very eco-friendly and it isn't common to use things such as plastic silverware, plastic grocery bags, or to-go coffee cups (which often contain plastic coating!). When I noticed these things about the Parisians, it prompted me to do research and discover about how much plastic is damaging to our earth. I realized that if I changed my habits, it might influence others to do the same, and then we can change our footprint on the earth. This is a simple example but one that shows how when we step out of our cultural bubble, our viewpoint can change, our perspective can be broadened, and we can create good change. To end our program, we all participated in Reflections Abroad to bookend our program. It was a day of discussions and presentations about what students have learned and what we can do with this information as we move forward in life. One of my fellow students talked about her time interning here in Paris and what she gained from that experience. She said that oftentimes Americans focus on the tiny to-do tasks in a project because achievement in important in our culture but we often don't grasp the whole concept or idea. The French, however, approach projects with a broad overview. I heavily relate to this discovery because the more time I spend time in the French culture, the more broad my thinking is. Of course, it is important to focus on the details in life but we cannot forget to step back and remember our goals and our missions.
 Spring in Paris
 A walk along the Seine

As I reflect on studying abroad, I can say that I gained many practical skills, yes, but more importantly I gained a wider and deeper perspective on life in general. We can often get stuck in thinking about ourselves, focusing only about things that effect us or the close people around us, but if we are intentional, we can step out of what we know and what we're comfortable with to live a life of purpose, effectiveness, and intention.

 The columns at Palais Royal Garden

Hannah K. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Paris, France. She is currently a Sophomore studying Entrepreneurship at Belmont University.  

Hannah Kersey is the Spring 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Belmont University.
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