Bonjour! My name is Elisabeth Karrels and I am a junior majoring in Dance, participating in the Dance in Paris Semester Program. Having never left the U.S. prior to coming here, I was eager to explore parts of the world that I’ve never seen before and learn about various cultures. One of the things about this program that excites me the most is the opportunity to work with and learn from world-renowned choreographers, as well as to expand my knowledge as a dancer. I have been living in Paris, France for six weeks now, and I can honestly say that it has already been a life changing experience.
There is no possible way I can condense my experiences from the past six weeks into one blog post. I will start by saying that the first few weeks in Paris included a wide range of feelings. I was in the honeymoon phase: a new country, new food, new people, new schedule, new way of life. It sounds pretty nice, and I feel grateful that I am able to experience such changes in my life. However, with all of these new and exciting changes, come consequences of change, which I experienced heavily within the first few weeks of the program. I was ecstatic that I was finally in Paris–the city of art–where I could grow not only as a dancer, but also as a human being. When I encountered some “negatives” after only a few days of living here, I realized that I can no longer romanticize Paris; it is the place I will call home for the next five months, and home is never perfect one-hundred percent of the time.
Just a few things about my new home that took some time getting used to:
-The breakfast offered at my dorm is bread; we get the option of tea or coffee to go with it. Unlike in the U.S., there are not endless choices for breakfast (or any meal for that matter); there are no eggs, cereal, bacon, etc. Bread is also served with every meal, and sold on nearly every street corner (Une baguette s’il vous plaît!).
-My dorm room is the size of a cubicle…well it feels like it. It took me close to two weeks to get settled in to my small room, there’s not enough storage as I’m used to, and it always seems to be a mess which simply stresses me out.
-The language most often spoken is French…obviously. I used apps to help me learn French prior to coming here, but it’s definitely a shock not hearing my native language most of the time. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten all of the useful phrases the apps have taught me once I am confronted with a French speaker. Learning French has, without a doubt, been the most difficult aspect of living here.
-I am in the heart of a major city. There are always people and cars bustling on the streets. I take the metro everywhere I need to go, unless it’s the grocery store or boulangerie which in walking distance. My classes can be as far as a 45 minute metro ride away.
All of these consequential changes that I experienced after moving to Paris taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned that in order to grow and thrive during this program, I need not only to accept these changes, but embrace them. It’s the middle of week six and I can truthfully admit that I have embraced the transformations of living in a foreign country, and it has made my experience more positive and fulfilling. For this, I have already grown as a human being.