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Study Abroad

Study abroad in Paris

One student’s experience of studying abroad in the city of love

The opportunity to study abroad allows sutdents to gain a different persepctive, learn a new language and exchange ideas with students from other cultures. Perhaps more importantly, it offers students a chance to completely immerse themselves in an entirely different world from that with they are accustomed to. Leona Liu, a doule major in French and print journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago, is spending her junior year studying abroad in Paris. Liu is taking a class at Sorbonne University while she learns about France and all it has to offer.

The French don’t like. They love. Their spoken language, a dulcet ode to amour, doesn’t permit the foemer, lesser sentiment. In their vocabulary, the only verbs that exist to express preferential feelings are adorer (to adore) and aimer (to love). Everything uttered implies a sinful indulgence whether you adore le chocolat or aime Jean-Pierre.

This passionate ardor  for meere trucs, everyday things, carries over to the way French people go about their daily lives, which explains why it’s always sparkling with joie de vivre. I’ve been studying abroad in Paris for a little over a month now, and every day has been steeped in plaisir (pleasure).

For one, French women don’t diet. A workout-holic and ex-gym bunny who previously subsisted on a strict regime of salad *low-fat dressing on the side, naturally) and Jamba Juice shakes (under 200 calories of course!), I wsa shocked to discover that Pixie-sized Parisian mademoiselles take sugar, not Splenda, in their coffee, and smother real butter, on their bread, not I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Brace yourselves for what I’m going to say next all you Atkins girls out there. The French eat carbs! And by this, I do not mean the little crumbs of bread you use to sop up your soup. Baguettes are so venerated here that there are boulangeries (bakeries) on every corner. There are three on my street alone! Lunch generally consists of a baguette purchased from the corner bakery — the French equivalent of a sandwich — dressed with saucisson (thinly-sliced sausage), cornichons (baby pickled cucumbers), jambon (ham), crudites (lettuce), gruyere (Swiss cheese) or camembert (thick, creamy cheese).

After initially refusing to succumb to the wafting odors of oven-baked bread (if Heaven had a scent, this seriously would be it), I finally caved. It’s been four weeks since I kissed my no-carbs diet goodbye and now I don’t feel any guilt for eating a pain au chocolat (flaky croissant with a chocolate filling) as my breakfast every morning and then a Suisse pepite (pastry with a custard filling encrusted with chocolate chips) for my afternoon snack. After all, why shouldn’t one subsist on the “food of the gods?” The French do’t merely eat; they savor every rich morsel. Strangely enough, I’ve lost tw3o pounds since I’ve been here. It’s the idea of pure satiation versus self-deprivation. It’s the logical and effortless way to stay slim because when you’re satisfied, you don’t snack mindlessly or require portions so big they could feed a family of five.

Their cavity-inducing lifestyle even reaches into the realm of romance. After all, this is the country that invented the French kiss! Not to mention that everything’s twice as sinfully delicious when it’s uttered in the language of amour. Their pet names petit coeur (my little heart) and tresor (treasure) are enough to sap baby and honey dry of every ounce of sweetness.

Contrary to popular belief, French men actually don’t pick up ladies with the line “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?” Here, young people don’t partake in ephemeral, casual hook-ups like those rampant in America. Case study #1: I was seeing a French garcon for less than a week when he asked me to be exclusive. Confounded, I asked my host brother, who’s 24, if this was normal. “Mais oui!” he responded, slighted by what he perceived as a preposterous question. If you kiss someone, he explained, it’s assumed you’re their petit copain (boyfriend) or petite copine (girlfriend). When it comes to dating, there’s no 30-day trial period. Apparently Old World courtship is alive and well here.

The joie de vivre of the French has captured the imagination of countless Americans who find themselves leading such hectic lives that not even a Blackberry can sort it out. too often we’re trapped in meaningless routines because we fail to live with intention. To remedy this, we need to abandon our lukewarm American tendency to simply “like” things and instead aimer, just as the French do, with scalding passion.

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