My name is Christina and I’m from Chicago, Illinois. I’m a junior at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in Cinema Art and Science while also earning a minor in Black World Studies. I’m currently studying abroad with The Institute of Language and French Culture in Paris, France! My classes include the French language, French cinema history, and art history. It has been a dream come true for me! I’ve always wanted to experience Paris since I was a little girl. At first, I wanted to go to Paris for the stereotypical reasons like seeing the Eiffel Tower and eating macarons. However, the need to go to Paris intensified once I started studying French cinema in school and listening to French music. I wanted to go to this place that inspired so many artists.
Before my arrival, I was nervous about being able to communicate with people because my French was still at its beginner stage. Although I have studied the language for two semesters and refreshed over the summer, I felt that I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was nervous that some people would be rude to me because my French wasn’t perfect. I also feared being away from my family. I had never traveled outside of the country before and I had just recently started traveling within the United States. In fact, no one in my family has ever studied abroad before.
When I arrived in Paris, my emotions were a mix of excitement and terror. I had finally made it. I was in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my friends and family. As I looked out of the window of my airport transfer, I started to tear up because I could see the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t in a photograph. It wasn’t in a painting. I was looking at it with my own eyes. After arriving at my apartment, I started unpacking and making the place a little more homey. I looked out the window (which had French doors, of course) and took in the view. Paris would be my home for the next three months.
The same night, I went to get a few groceries because I wasn’t comfortable dining out just yet. I wasn’t ready for the frustrated look on the waiter’s face as I pronounced the item on the menu incorrectly. However, I did encounter frustration at the grocery store: having to translate all of the labels! I knew this wouldn’t be the case every time, but it was my first reality check. There aren’t going to be italicized translations in English on everything. I will have to adapt.
My study abroad journey began in the produce section. I went back to my apartment and immediately started practicing my French.