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Study Abroad Blog

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Times Flies When You're Studying Abroad

Already I’ve been living here in Paris for two and a half months, and thus the midpoint of my semester abroad has passed by me. As spring brings more pleasant weather and consequently more exploration across both this marvelous city and Europe as a whole, the empty days on my calendar have all but disappeared. I have no doubt that the evolution of self already begun will continue until my last day here, but in retrospective review of my semester thus far I can already perceive the growth through which I’ve come to adopt more thoughtful and arguably wise attitude and approach to my experience abroad. These five principles lie at the heart of my abroad experience, and if you might be considering your own semester over here in France or one of its neighboring lands, I encourage you to consider trying on some of these mantras in your own unique experience.
 the facade of Notre Dame, whose carvings all tell stories that I learned in great detail through my architecture class here!
 one of my favorite little spots for music in the city, Le Popup du Label, where I've now seen bands Pale Waves and Aquilo

Absorb it fully. There’s a lot to see in Paris, and the duration of my semester abroad is ultimately so short. When faced with tight time constraints, I’ve made it my habit to prioritize. By selecting my one—or maybe two—essential, I have found the chance to deeply explore and truly savor some incredible sights and places, which I’d argue is much more meaningful an experience than flying rapidly through a series of things for the sake of being able to say, “I ‘did’ it all,” when I am ultimately unable to appreciate and absorb what it is I’m seeing. As the ever-quotable Ron Swanson once said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
 my beloved friend Emily, who I've grown close with so delightfully organically during the first half of our semester abroad together

Embrace the evolution. Not unlike my first semester at college back in the States, the first few weeks/months of my experience with this new school, place, and set of routines have come with much change. I was primed to expect it—by my peers who have gone abroad already, by my home institution, and by CEA themselves—but still, change often comes in unexpected places and asks you to simply roll with it. At the end of it all, however, I’ve found a more connected and loyal group of friends, I’ve come to really love what I’m learning, and I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
 a map of Paris, circa 1929, that I discovered upon talking with a French merchant in a Berlin flea market
 French models—and now friends!—Meggie and Marianne, who I met while interning at Paris Fashion Week, which was certainly a pleasant surprise in the midst of my semester!

Be bold. As virtually every one of these little blurbs notes, study abroad inherently comes with a number of challenges—but that doesn’t mean it’s not fulfilling. Take yourself out to lunch at a nearby café. Sit in a park and people-watch for some new insights into the lives of the French. Hop off the metro and just start walking. Sample some new foods. Wander through a museum and see what curiosities you discover. Whether you’re doing it with new friends or simply by yourself, there are lots of marvelous discoveries to be made when you do something bold and venture out into the world of study abroad that lies around you.
 I went searching for the best views in the city and found *this* atop Centre Pompidou!

Get creative. 
Creativity has been my best friend while studying abroad, whether it be in my own passion projects or in my resourceful approaches to survival. While working with a very limited French vocabulary, I’ve grown especially creative in finding new ways to say things. Some days I feel like my brain is a set of those refrigerator magnet sets with mad-libs style vocabulary, but with each new week, my word bank grows a bit larger. My knowledge of the Parisian metro system has grown as well, as has my culinary adventurousness and much more beyond. Study abroad introduces you to a lot of new—I’ve found that the art of making something of very little is one of the best assets to an enjoyable abroad experience.
 my friends Audrey and Emma, visiting Paris from CEA Prague for a weekend!

Laugh. Laugh at the misadventures you’ll inevitably encounter, at yourself, at all of it. In a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, living in a new home, taking new classes in the midst of a wholly new group of people—I think it’s enviable that at some point(s) in time you’ll feel foolish, you’ll say something that sounds dumber aloud than it did in your head, or you’ll realize three stops too late that you’ve taken the metro in the wrong direction. Laugh it off, make a humorous story of it when you FaceTime your friends back home, and know that these little misadventures are not indicative of failure but rather of the chance to learn, of the strength to increase your own resiliency.

Jared K. is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Photographer in Paris, France. He is currently a junior studying Management & Innovation and Global Studies at Champlain College.

Jared Knepper is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Photographer in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Champlain College.
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