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Discovering the Passion of Paris by Studying Abroad

January 31, 2024
by Adrien Allen

Discovering the Passion of Paris by Studying Abroad in France

Some of my biggest connections from my time studying abroad in Paris come from my identities.

A wall with writing on it

Street art by the Persian Poet I found.

The Passion of Paris  

Arriving from a much smaller city, my study abroad program was my first opportunity to truly interact with other people like me and to find a community.

A study abroad student jumping up to a statue of a person

Exploring a new street with Mick (left, American) and Elio (right, French).

One of the most interesting things about the groups I spent my time with was the international aspect.

A group of people standing on a bench

My selfie at a picnic with friends. From left to right: Naomi (German), Louise (French), Mick (American), Elio (French.)

Every group was a mix of French people and immigrants, which made for a unique exploration of the city and culture. I found that, even though everyone had lived in Paris for different lengths of time (30 years, 7 years, a year, 4 months, etc.), there was always something new and interesting to find, and that everybody was interested in finding.  

A crowd of people in a room with lights.

Purim celebration at the Jewish Art and History Museum.

Parisians, A People of Passion 

My favorite among those I found was the LGBTQIA+ community. While I knew that France, and especially Paris, is a pretty open place, I still felt nervous about how being transgender would affect my study abroad experience. My worries were very quickly assuaged by warm and endlessly kind friends who were eager to show me their favorite community spaces and invited me to join them at numerous events.

A group of people sitting around a statue with pride swag

Pride event at Place de la Nation.

It was with them that I got introduced to the French style of activism. Everyone I met was endlessly passionate both about LGBTQIA+ rights and about social issues in general. In the middle of my time abroad was the height of the strikes against the new retirement law. People were happy to explain the situation to me, recommend reading, and clarify why even younger people or other specific groups were getting involved and the importance of that intersectionality. 

A sign on a pole

Political sticker on a traffic light. "The bourgeois want to make us die at work. Retirement at 60, for everyone."

Many of these deeply fascinating and philosophical discussions were held over equally wonderful and delicious food abroad. Whether with friends, my host family, or anyone else in the communities around me, mealtimes in France were an event.

A waiter carrying a tray of food on a staircase

Waiter carrying a tray of food at Bouillon Repulique.

Dinners lasted for hours and focused on savoring each bite as well as the conversation. While each person I was lucky enough to spend time with had their own intense passions, the love of food is what drew them all together.

A group of people in a kitchen

Lunch break at a weekend cooking class.


Adrien Allen is the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 Alumni Ambassador in Paris, France, and is currently studying at University of North Carolina at Asheville.
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