A week ago I had the pleasure of visiting Paris along with ten other students and one wonderful professor. Since the beginning of the semester we have been attending class for two hours on Mondays to learn about the media of France. We were even quizzed on French news. Fortunately, the class was not taught in French, because my knowledge of the language went no further than saying bonjour, merci and oui.
While I have picked up some helpful terms in French from my visit, I may never know how to hold a conversation completely in the language. However, I could handle a conversation in Spanish.
The experiences our group had were unlike anything I’ve experienced. A large portion of our staff was able to make the trip including Aimee Hirsch, our editor in chief, Nick Graziano, our managing editor, Ben Schleider, our opinion editor, and Ryan Deffenbaugh, one of our copy editors.
Professor Eileen Gilligan did a fantastic job of not only preparing us for the trip, but setting up meetings with members of the media in Paris. We were fortunate enough to meet with Harold Hyman, a Paris-based broadcast journalist at BFM TV, one of the most widely watched stations in the country. We also received a tour inside Radio France, more specifically within the France Info department, where we saw studios in use as well as journalists getting their stories ready. We were also able to sit in on a radio show that is quite popular in the country. We met with the social media director for the Angence French Presse, as well as the head of the AFP Foundation. The two spoke with us after we received a tour of both of the agency’s buildings, which were quite impressive.
They provided us with a taste of the global community. AFP focuses heavily on global news, rather than strictly French news, reinforcing the idea that the French look at themselves as a member of the global community rather than focusing only on the country. We were also fortunate enough to meet with Eleanor Beardsley of National Public Radio. She is NPR’s Paris correspondent and covers stories on France from her apartment office and someone we looked forward to meeting with after listening to her stories in class and learning about her.
Meeting with members of Paris’ media was only part of the experience. We did a lot of sightseeing, visiting the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Pompidou, Notre Dame, the palace at Versailles, Napolean’s Tomb, Roland Garros (the French Open) and of course the Eiffel Tower. We scaled to the top of the tower at midnight and saw the Parisian skyline for all that it’s worth. Words cannot begin to describe the feeling of being over 1,000 feet off the ground, especially when you’re in Paris.
We also experienced a bit of Paris’ nightlife, frequenting a brasserie called L’ Entacte Des Gobelins for two nights. The staff there loved us right off the bat and even gave us free plates of French fries to accompany our drinks.
Paris is an amazing place to see and something I recommend everyone doing if they have the opportunity. Take BRC 370 next spring, you can thank me later. This class, without a doubt, showed me the importance of looking at the global community rather than just the American one. It has truly made me consider studying abroad as soon as I can and if I can’t, then I will just have to travel more.
As a major city, Paris differs from New York City. It was put perfectly for us when meeting with AFP: New York City moves at 100 mph, while Paris moves at 30 mph. Something that could be seen, unless you were on the metro where everyone runs from one stop to another and pushes to get on the next train. While paying for food was expensive, it was worth it because you got your money’s worth every time.
Overall, Paris was fantastic. It will always be fantastic. Contrary to popular belief, the people are quite friendly and helpful. Baguettes are better in Paris, hands down. The flight may be long, but it’s ultimately worth being packed in like sardines on an Air France flight.
If I had to pick only one thing to take away from this trip (which is impossible to really do), I’d say that globalizing yourself is important for the future. I saw so much globalization rather than localization that it would be foolish for me to be ignorant to this fact.
Merci beaucoup to Professor Gilligan, my classmates and Office of International Education department for making this trip what it was.