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By Rachel Blair

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Paris. This has been an adventure that I couldn’t have even dreamed of. Paris is beautiful and my study abroad experience has been something I’m truly thankful for.

I am currently writing this at Charles De Gaulle Airport, at my gate. I can’t believe that it’s all over. This semester flew by. I’m excited to see my family when I get off this plane, but I know that what I have experienced these last three months is something that I will NEVER get again.

I have met some amazing people that I know I will continue to hang out with at GW, as well as some French students that I know I will keep in touch with. The memories I have shared with them will stay with me forever and they will forever be a part of one of the biggest experiences of my life.

I refuse to say goodbye to Paris, this is only see you later. It hasn’t really hit me that I’m leaving until now. Sitting down and typing about the amazing experience I have had makes this leaving thing a whole lot harder.

Sometimes I like to think back to when I first got to Paris and how new everything seemed and how scared I really was to face this big city without any family. But as my time in Paris progressed, I got a whole lot more comfortable there. Now I can’t see myself in my own home in New York. Paris still feels like my home to me, and I don’t know if I’m really ready to let go.

Whoever is reading this, take the opportunity to study abroad, it will be one of the best experiences of your life. You may regret it when you’re leaving, scared, and nervous, but as time goes on, you’ll grow to love where you are and the decision you have made. But most importantly, don’t do this for anyone else but yourself.

I was ready to commit to Paris because I wanted it so badly, more than I think I realized when I was applying. This is the time to grow, learn who you are, and experience the world in a totally different light.

There are so many memories from this program that I will hold onto forever. There are so many people that have made such a huge impact on me while here, and to the ones I will never get to see again, my heart weeps.

There is so much I want to say, but it’s impossible for me to do that without crying so I’m going to keep this last post short and sweet.

Study abroad! It will change your life for the better and I promise that you won’t regret it.

By Rachel Blair

I just got back today to Paris from a long, but amazing weekend. As you all know, this weekend I went to Prague, Czech Republic and it was beautiful.

In mid-September one of my friends from school, Sydney, who is studying abroad in Florence, Italy asked me if I wanted to travel to Prague with her. Now me, not knowing anything about Prague but who wanted to explore said yes. One of the best decisions I made this entire semester.

Before I went to Prague, everyone told me that it was beautiful and had amazing architecture. All I knew about Prague was how pretty everyone claimed it was and Nicki Minaj’s “You b****** can’t even spell Prague.” So, I left the planning up to Syd, but was excited to mark this as my last trip.

However, I was the one that found us our Airbnb and let me tell you, it was the best Airbnb I have ever seen. We absolutely loved it. We loved it so much that every night we were excited to go back to it, and today we didn’t want to leave it.

But Prague is such a beautiful city, with so much to do, and easy ways of getting around. One thing that I was really fascinated with was that some of their subway trains were actually in the middle of the street. There would be cars driving next to you on both sides and sometimes even behind and in front of you at any given point while on those subways.

Also, the prices of everything in Prague were amazing! First of all, their currency is so much weaker than ours that $1 is about 20/25 of their money. So, buying things is very weird there because you would spend about 150 on a drink, which makes you feel like you’re a big baller, but in reality, you’re paying practically nothing. One night for dinner, I got a meal, alcoholic drink, side, and dessert and only paid $25. On top of those cheap prices, everything was actually really good. I would’ve been willing to pay more for everything I got.

I really enjoyed the amount of time I was able to spend there as well. Sydney and I for whatever reason decided to catch 7am flights that would get into Prague at 9am. In the end, I was very happy we did that because it gave us a full 3 days, but that Thursday morning when I had to get up at 3am I regretted that decision. Like I said, both of our flights arrived in Prague around 9am, and our Airbnb was only 45 minutes away by public transportation, so we started our day off around 10:30 and got to see Prague when there weren’t as many people around.

Sydney works for admissions and has been assigned the task of taking pictures with the GW banner. On Thursday, we went to this really nice bridge, but Syd forgot the banner, so we knew we had to go back at some point to take the picture she really wanted to get. We decided to go back Saturday. Wow, what a difference it made being there on Thursday compared to Saturday. As we were getting closer to the bridge on Saturday, the crowd of people just kept increasing and we knew we made the smart decision of actually seeing it on Thursday.

Without even meaning to, I believe that Sydney and I somehow managed to get all of the top tourist attractions done on Thursday and Friday, with very limited tourist, and then got to do cool adventures on Saturday, where we barely had to see tourists.

Prague is such a beautiful place and while there, it was amazing to think about how all of that was existing while I wasn’t there, and it will continue to exist while I’m gone. It’s amazing what little impact we have on the world, but it’s also amazing discovering new cultures and walks of life. While living our lives in the United States, we don’t think twice about the things going on in anywhere else in the world, especially someplace like Prague. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that people live their everyday lives in these places, and that they do exist, and we should take the time to get to know them. While we’re stuck in our ways in one country, a totally different life is happening in another.

I believe it is important to travel and to take in as much of the culture and experience as possible. No matter what you do, the cultures and lives in all of these other countries will still go on, so it’s better to appreciate and understand them than to avoid them.


By Rachel Blair

A key point that I have learned here in France, is learning how to actually balance everything while you’re in a different country. Yes, you have to learn how to balance while you’re away at school, but this type of balance is different. At first I thought it was going to be really easy, because all I’m doing this semester is taking classes compared to working two jobs and being in a sorority on top of classes. But, I feel like finding a balance, especially in this program is harder.

To begin, you’re in a new country, so your motivation to do work has actually gone down. Then, you don’t realize that you’re takin a class every day, that assigns homework every day, so you actually have to get the work done when you get back from class. But then you want tot explore Paris, but you have to eat and it’s already later in the day. It’s about finding what work is most important to do first and not killing yourself over the work either because at the end of the day, you’re going to do fine no matter what.

But on top of that, I think the most important balance comes from actually exploring Paris. Because you’re in Europe, & it’s so much easier to travel, you use up most of your weekends going to different countries rather than visiting different parts of Paris, let alone France. Last weekend, my mother, sister, & aunt came to visit me and it was one of the best times here in Paris. I forgot what it was like to walk around Paris and just enjoy all that it has to offer. Paris is a beautiful place & I decided to study abroad here for a reason & I have to remember that. My goal for this last month of being here is going to be to do as much as I can inside Paris & enjoy all of the little things it has to offer.

To help balance, I advise going on all of the trips that are provided through the program. I will say it over & over again, but I feel like it really helps me get to know Paris & France as a whole.

But, you also must travel. I would feel so guilty if I spent a semester in France but didn’t travel to any other country. This weekend I went to Florence. I have a friend studying abroad there, but my boyfriend is currently with me & his family is from Italy, so we figured it’d be the perfect time to go see it. It was beautiful, but also not what I was expecting. We stayed in Florence & went to Rome for half of a day. I loved it, & know that I will be going back.

I just wish that there was more time in the program. When you start, you think you have all of the time in the world, but in reality, it goes by quicker than you think, & you’re going to leave with still of list of things you want to do, but that’s okay. I am enjoying as much as I can from this experience, but I’ve also accepted the fact that I’m not going to get to go everywhere, & that I am going to come back.

Moral of the story, enjoy Paris, but don’t be afraid to travel.

By Taylor Williams

Paris! This month has honestly been truly magical. Returning to Paris is something I’ve always dreamed of. The first time I went to Paris I was 14, and don’t think I was truly able to appreciate the magic that is the City of Love. This time was completely different. For one, it was an amazing trip I got to experience with my soror’s, Faith and Jessica. It was truly a dream, to imagine that one day I’ll be able to tell my kids that at 20 I traveled to Paris with my sorority sisters! The first thing we did when we arrived was set off to the Louvre, to be honest, I wasn’t all that excited to see it, as I’d already been there and seen the Mona Lisa, and had been underwhelmed the first time I saw her. This time, however, was completely different. I hadn’t been able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Louvre and how much beauty lives within it. 

More than anything, however, this trip inspired me. I’m sad to say I was becoming a little disappointed in London and a little underwhelmed with the city as a whole. That is until my friend Nzinga, whom I visited during my travels in Paris told me about how wonderful her study abroad experience had been, and how she was hoping to extend her trip. When I asked her what made her love it so much, she told me that each day she sets out with the intention of experiencing something new about Paris, and so that's what I aspire to do with London, to see, do, and overall experience something new and different every day.  Until next time! xx

By Rachel Blair

Time has really been flying by. I can’t believe it’s almost November! Last time you heard from me, I was in Normandy. It was really cold there, but it was an amazing experience. I’m really happy that I went because as I said before, I wouldn’t have gone there on my own. These past two weekends have been really busy for me as well. The weekend after Normandy, I went to Iceland with my friend Michael. I loved every second of it, and plan on going again. We stayed at an Airbnb in Reykjavik and rented a car from the airport for the entire weekend. If you go, I advise getting a car because everything is so spread out, and the only mode of public transportation is a bus. We got there on Friday night, and stayed until Sunday afternoon. Friday and Sunday were spent in the city of Reykjavik, but Saturday was my favorite day. That day, we drove around the Golden Circle and hit a lot of our top places. My favorite spot was the Black Sand Beach. We woke up at 6:30am and did not get back to the Airbnb until 11:30pm. I was exhausted after, but it was worth it. I highly advise everyone to go to Iceland. It was so peaceful in its own way. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was a place that brought me real joy.

This past weekend, I went to London to visit a friend that is studying abroad at Queen Mary’s. I left Friday night for that as well, but had a 6:20am flight back to Paris because I had a final exam on Monday that I had to study for. (That’s one of my major signs that time is flying. Since I take 3 GW classes here, each for 3 and a half weeks, every time I finish one of them, it’s a sign that the semester is getting closer and closer to being over. I have already finished 2 out of my 3 and there’s still so much I feel like I want to do here.) But I really enjoyed going to London because I’ve been there before, and have done all of the tourist activities, so this time my friend took me to his favorite spots and the cooler areas of London. It was also nice to be in a country that spoke English for a bit. It was very weird at first seeing everything in English since I’ve been here for so long now.

Being abroad here has made me realize that I would love to travel to a different country every year if my finances and time allow me. Visiting all of these countries has been such a different experience every time, I could only imagine what other countries have in store as well. I’m so happy I took advantage of this study abroad opportunity. It has been an amazing experience that I know I will remember forever. I look forward to the last haul of my program, and can’t wait to see what else Paris has in store for me.


Above: Dover, England


Above: Iceland

By Rachel Blair

Hey guys! I hope you’re enjoying this journey I’m taking you on. Last week as I mentioned, I made it to Germany. It was absolutely beautiful! It felt really good going to Germany because my mom’s family is actually from Germany. I have had many different types of German food before, but only from German restaurants near me, so to have actual German food was another world. I got to horseback ride in the mountains of Germany & eat home cooked German food. It all felt so unreal. I texted my mother & told her that we must go back together because I want to experience that with her. Sadly, I had to leave and get back to reality.

It was nice going back “home” to my apartment in Paris and getting to lay in “my” own bed again. Now, I’m writing this blog from Normandy. This week flew by and I feel like October is going to be over in the blink of an eye. Being here in Normandy has been an amazing experience so far. We left this morning, Saturday, October 7th, at 7:15 in the morning and arrive back in Paris tomorrow around 8 at night. Then, next weekend I’m heading to Iceland, and then the weekend after that I’m going to London, and there’s just so much to do!

While in Normandy, we are staying on this island that reminds me of “The Woman in Black” for those of you that have actually seen it. Not that it’s creepy, the island itself reminds me of Hogwarts, but the concept of the island reminds me of “The Woman in Black.” The island itself is beautiful and old but looks like it has a lot of character and doesn’t look real. But there’s one bridge to get to it, and only one way to enter into the town. Before that bridge was there, you were only able to enter or leave the island during low tide because there would be no way on or off during high tide, like in the movie. But this is everyone’s favorite part of this trip, and I can see why. It’s a great bonding experience for everyone, being stuck with most for two days, and sharing a room with people you might not be the closest too. I must say, I’ve had some great conversations with my not so usual group of people.

So far, I’ve loved going on all of the trips provided by GW. That is one major highlight about this trip. These are all paid for & are ways to explore parts of France that aren’t so close to Paris. They’ve been really fun and have also encouraged me to do things I normally would not have. If this trip was not included in the program, I definitely wouldn’t have made it here to Normandy, but I’m so glad I did. I think part of traveling is about going to the places that people least expect you to. The tourist spots are fun, but it’s also those parts of countries that only few people know about that really make a place.

One last thing, the food!! I believe that the food of a country is a very significant part of traveling and I will gladly say that the food all over France has not let me down. I could eat forever here. I’m scared to leave France to go to Iceland because the food in Iceland is supposedly very bad. I’m going to go from being spoiled by France to barely eating in Iceland. Let’s wish me the best!


Above: Oktoberfest & Horseback Riding


Above: Normandy

Above: “The Woman in Black”/Hogwarts

By Rachel Blair

Hi guys! I’m super excited to tell you all that I’m writing this blog from Tubingen, Germany! It’s Thursday, and I arrived here this morning and it’s been such an amazing day. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit rough this morning getting here. My friend Camille and I booked these tickets in early September with her cousin who lives in Germany and is the person that we’re staying with. However, Camille and I didn’t actually look at the tickets until Wednesday, discovering that we had to transfer twice and had no idea how to get to the train station we were leaving from. But, we figured it out, and it was only a 30-minute metro ride. The problems started when we hopped on our first train.

Since we bought the tickets with her cousin, we used this German website because she found really good tickets for us. Little did we know that the ticket was in German and that it was telling us for the first train that we had assigned seats. So, we get on the train and find two really good seats. Right after we sat down, this couple came up to us and told us that we were sitting in their seats, mind you there was no one else in that car. We asked them how to find our seats and so they showed us, but not really. When leaving that car, we ran into a guy who worked at the station and he just told us to walk down, it’s on the right, and two. We walked a little bit and I saw a big two on the side of one of the trains, so I was like this must be it. By then, Camille and I had figured out that we weren’t sitting together, I was seat 105 and she was 103, so we were like that’s okay. We found the seats in that car and thought we had finally figured it out. Ha. This guy comes up to Camille and tells her that she was sitting in his seat. Now when that happened, there were only 10 minutes left until the train left and we had no idea what we were doing. We got off the train and just started walking. As each car passed, I was able to figure out the pattern, and got us to the right seats. After that, it was smooth sailing except for the fact that we managed to sit in first class for the last train and got kicked to the back by the conductor and had to do the walk of shame.

All that mattered was that we made it in one piece and found her cousin standing on the platform waiting for us. After that, her cousin made us food, we explored Tubingen for a little and now we’re preparing to go to Octoberfest tomorrow. Sadly, we’re catching a 9:37 train, but it should be lots of fun.

Now about Paris, it is wonderful, and I still can’t get over my spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been exploring Paris a little more each day. I’ve gone to the Louvre, the Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, and so many other awesome places. I have also finished the GW marketing class which I really liked. Having the classes broken up this way has really made time fly. It feels weird to be done with one class already. But, I will say that I’ve already had two classes canceled, one was marketing and the other was econ, which was probably the most amount of classes I’ve ever had canceled because GW never cancels classes. Both of those canceled classes made it easier to travel around Paris and find new spots.

One last bit of great news, people keep coming up to me and asking me questions in French, mostly directions, and this one lady apologized after, saying that I look French. I’m blending in! Once you start to get the routine down, and get adjusted to an area, life becomes a lot simpler. I would say the biggest thing about moving to a new city and understanding the metro system. Once you understand the metro system of a city, you know that city.

Paris is amazing, and I am enjoying every bit of it. I wish I didn’t have to take classes, but that’s all a part of the deal. A little sacrifice that has to be made so I can be in this beautiful city, with amazing people, exploring not only Paris, but Europe as well. Next time, I’ll be able to tell you more about Germany, but that’s it for now! Keep exploring!

Above: Here is the inside of only a small portion of the Louvre.
Above: Here was have the one and only Norte Dame.
Above Left: The Luxembourg Gardens
Above: The best class trip that has ever been taken. Here we are in Champagne, France, where they make champagne and we got to try the real stuff. That was a great day.


3 Above: Finally, we have some amazing pictures of Tubingen, Germany. It’s a beautiful place, and I can’t wait to explore even more!

By Rachel Blair

As you all know, I’m studying abroad in Paris through the GW Fall Paris Business Program. It has been busy from the moment that I arrived in Paris, however I love it. A real benefit to begin the program is that we have an entire week to get adjusted to Paris, but with the help of two lovely ladies, Florence and her assistant, Emma. During that first week, we take French classes, so we can manage to figure our way around, go to wine and cheese tastings, go to museums, and many different famous restaurants, all paid for by GW. The best part about that week is getting to know the students that you are taking all of your classes with and spending most of your time with outside of the classroom setting first. I think that meeting people before being in an actual classroom setting allows for better flow of conversation and for real friendships to form. I’ve met some really amazing people through the first week’s orientation, both American and French.

Even though week one seems to be jam packed, the schedule was all clear for Saturday, giving us all an opportunity to do things that we wanted to do. My roommate/friend Camille and I decided that we wanted to touch a little bit of as much as we could in Paris that day. Her mom had bought her a book with about 50 of the most artistic places in Paris, and we went through that book and picked out what seemed to be the coolest and prettiest locations. So, for our first Saturday in France, Camille and I left our apartment at 10am and didn’t arrive back home until 8:30pm. It was an amazing experience, and what made it even better was that our friends Michael and Spencer joined us along our journey. It was great spending such a nice day outside the whole time exploring different areas of Paris.

Also, if you’re ever thinking of studying abroad in France, or staying in France for a long period of time, it pays to get a Navigo pass. The Navigo pass is for basically all modes of transportation in France and gives you unlimited access for 75 Euros a month. Once you have that pass, you feel like a real Parisian. It reminds me of the DC metro pass because all you have to do is tap, however, this one doesn’t need to be refilled until the end of the month. Also, you don’t have to tap out here like you do in DC.

...continue reading "Just the Beginning"

By ltchouaffe

I remember after I first arrived back in September, I went to a restaurant  by myself. It was an early Sunday morning and I was excited to get some food in my stomach. The waitress came up to me, led me to my seat and started explaining the menu. I only let her go on a couple of seconds before I stopped her along I'm English if she could speak English since  I couldn't understand French. She gave me an exasperated look and she continued in non perfect English. This story is similar to many similar events that happened afterwards where I did not have the words in French to ask or do the domestic things like understand the menu. Even though this story may seem minor, this particular event has stuck with me for a long time.
Learning a new language is hard and French itself is not an easy language. People learn languages for many different reasons including discovering or going deeper into their identity. In my first semester in Strasbourg, despite my  initial initiative to learn French, my heart was in not in it for a while  and since I was in a program where most of the classes were in English, it didn't help. However, after a friend urged me to try harder, I took this semester to put more effort in. It was not easy and while at this moment my French is not perfect in any way and I still get nervous talking to natives, I look back at that time in the restaurant because I realize how far I have come and showed me that you have to put in effort. I guess I learned that I can try and it is possible. I am capable of challenging myself. I still have more work to do but I can say things that I couldn't say a year ago and am more confident than I was a year ago. It's a start but a good one indeed.

By Marissa Kirshenbaum

A lot has happened since I wrote my last blog. In fact, this current blog is not even from "abroad", as I have officially returned back to the United States. Leaving Paris has been a whirlwind, one in which different feelings have all swirled together into one that is indescribable: I am grateful yet at the same time heartbroken, I am excited yet at the same time fearful. In the days leading up to my flight home, I felt at times content with the idea of leaving Europe, of rejoining my friends and family back home and reflecting on my meaningful experience. Yet, sometimes only a few minutes later I would feel devastated that my childhood dream has been terminated, that my time living in Paris has come to a close, and that I would have to say goodbye to a place that I had just gotten accustomed to living in.

Leaving Paris was more than coming back home after a long trip. In fact, when I was sixteen I spent five weeks travelling throughout Israel, so I believed that I would be used to the idea of leaving a place even if I had been there for a long time. However, this was different. It did not exactly feel like I was leaving to come home, because over the past three and a half months, Paris did in fact become my home. I went to school there, ate meals with my family, had my own bedroom, did my own laundry, and grocery shopped: all in Paris. I took trips throughout Europe and Africa, and returned to Paris. This was something that I had not expected would be so hard about leaving my sight of study abroad: it did not feel like my trip was over, but that my current life was being taken away from me.

Now that I am back and separated from Paris, I feel more of a sense of clarity. In this moment, I can reflect on my experience rather than dwell on what I lost. It has been interesting to reconnect with friends and see the life that I put on hold while I was studying abroad. It is interesting to see how people have changed and the things in society that have progressed. To me, it feels like I hit "resume", when in fact everyone else has been in "play".

...continue reading "Au Revoir mais pas Adieu!"