It’s hard to believe that in exactly 3 weeks, I will be boarding a plane and heading back home for the first time since June. I can’t deny that I miss my family, friends, hometowns (both Los Angeles and Boston), and the simple ease of living as a local. On the other hand, I’ve increasingly considered Paris as another home. I’ve developed relationships here, familiarity with metro lines and boulangeries, and a comfortability with the language that allows me to fit in just enough. I have no doubt that this experience will be the topic of many a dinner table conversation and job interview for at least the next year or two. It’s also helped me develop a lifelong passion for traveling and discovering unfamiliar cultures. Every time I had to miss out on a travel opportunity due to finances I thought, That’s okay, there’s always next time. I have every intention of returning to Europe – whether on a long-term or short-term basis – before the age of 26. Why specifically 26? Because that’s when youth discounts end and I’d have to actually pay to enter a museum or other tourist site.
During my time here I’ve:
- Traveled to 10 new countries
- Been immersed in 6 new languages
- Tried at least 50 new types of cheese (probably more)
- Tried at least 20 wines (probably more)
- Eaten my weight in baguettes, pain au chocolat, and croissants
- Been to at least a dozen museums
- Taken at least 2,000 pictures (I’ve had to delete a lot for space)
- Spent approximately 100 hours on the metro (probably more)
- Met people from every corner of the world : Australia, China, and Peru to name a few
- Tasted, felt, seen, heard, and smelled countless things that I never would have encountered without this opportunity
I guess I’ll leave you all with some parting tips. If you’ve even considering studying abroad:
- SAVE MONEY. Seriously, really, really. I tried my best to save but kept giving in to impulses while at home. In hindsight, I wish I had turned down that $5 latte to put towards my funds for abroad, so I could’ve done everything my heart desired.
- If you meet the requirements to study in a country whose primary language isn’t English, DO IT. Even if you have no intention of using a second language in your career, it’s an invaluable and special skill. In Europe, it’s hard to meet someone who doesn’t have at least a basic grasp of one or two secondary languages. Americans are looked down upon for only knowing English. Plus, it’s so rewarding and opens up a lot of doors. Immersion is the absolute best way to learn a language, even if right now you know little to nothing.
- If the only thing holding you back is fear of the unknown, GO. I know I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity and it may not be possible for everyone, but please don’t pass up this chance just because it’s out of your comfort zone. Even if you have some bad experiences along the way you ultimately won’t regret it and will learn a lot during your time abroad.
Samantha Pinsky is a junior in the Paris Internship Program. As a dual degree student in Advertising and European Studies with a French minor, she considered this a perfect opportunity to experience the French lifestyle. Some of her favorite things are traveling, visiting art museums, and writing. You can find the first two on her travel Instagram.