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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

As I write this, I currently have about two weeks left in Paris. That being said, I have one more last trip to Prague next weekend that I am very excited for. Since the last time I blogged, I had been traveling around and had a whole lot going on. This past week or two has been the total opposite. I’ve been taking it easy and trying to enjoy and take in Paris. I’ve had some wine nights with my friends, and some walks in new areas.

On Tuesday, we went to the Opera, as part of the program, to see a ballet and it was so beautiful. First of all, the Opera itself was a masterpiece, what a beautiful place. But then the ballet was lovely. It was titled “Hommage À Jerome Robbins” and it was broken up into 4 short ballets and all of them were beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the last one the most. The seats weren’t the best, but the ballet made up for it.

Through the program, today they took us to the Picasso Museum and took us to get falafel for lunch. I really enjoyed going to the Picasso Museum to see a lot of his work. I found it very interesting because he’s such a well-known artist, but I’ve only seen a few pieces, and getting to see a collection helped create my image of him. It’s different to actually see things than to hear them.

The falafel after was very good. I’ve never really had much falafel, but the one thing I don’t do is turn down free food, so I went. It was really good and authentic, and it was a new experience I was able to have here in Paris. However, it was very cold out today.

As you know, I’m from New York, so I’m used to the cold, but it’s been so much warmer here that I forgot what the cold is like. I haven’t worn my winter jacket yet since being here, but I’ve had a look at the weather and I think I’m going to have to start wearing it sadly.

Sadly, I’ve been doing some studying because I have two final exams on Tuesday, but then I’m done with assignments. I have my last finance class on Tuesday, which is one of the finals, and then I also have my French final. Wednesday, I have Econ class, but I have no more work in that class and the Ambassador of Spain is coming to speak to my class, so I’m very excited for that. Then the following Tuesday and Wednesday I have my last French & Econ classes, which will be so sad.

If you’re doing this program, I highly suggest the Econ class. I hate Econ and I’ll admit I’m actually terrible at Econ, but this one is not like a typical Econ class at GW. The professor is amazing and hilarious, and I really wish he worked at GW, so I could take another class with him. He doesn’t give tests, just case studies and a project (all group work), but without the tests, I feel like I can actually learn. He just sits down and talks for 3 hours, but we can lead the conversation and ask questions and he’s so intelligent and knows so much. He also gives very good movie recommendations. Since being in college, he is one of my favorite professors (after Professor Tara Scully if any of you have had her).

After my finals on Tuesday, I’m using whatever number of days left I have in this beautiful city to explore and find as many hidden gems as possible. I know that I will come back to Paris again, it has my heart. But, I’ve got to enjoy what I can, while I can. Waking up in the morning and not seeing the Eiffel Tower is something I’m really going to have to get use to when I get back home. I miss Paris already and I haven’t even left.

Above: The first picture I took at my metro stop this morning, and the second one I took inside the Picasso Museum (which is funny because you would think I would’ve posted a picture of his art).

Above: The Opera

Above: It was really foggy the other day, so you could barely see the Eiffel Tower, I thought it was cool.


By Stefania Tutra

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to one of the cities I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember – Paris, France! Paris was everything I imagined it would be and more.

I arrived in Paris at about 9 in the morning on Friday. We immediately went to our AirBnb which could not be in a more perfect location; it was in the Trocadero neighborhood, which is right across the Seine River in front of the Eiffel Tower. Because of our proximity to the Eiffel Tower, we could not wait to see it so it was our first stop. Walking towards the tower was an indescribable feeling – from seeing it in pictures and television from when I was young, to finally seeing it in person, right in front of me, felt unreal. Realizing we had yet to eat breakfast, we decided to stop at a romantic little Parisian restaurant across the street where we had the classic French breakfast filled with lots of croissants, baguettes, butter, fresh jam, coffee, and juice. The hype over the French croissants is so real. It was better than any croissant I had ever eaten – just the perfect amount of buttery and flaky.

After the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the Arc de Triomph which was only about 20 minutes away. Passing by the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona all the time, it was cool to see how the one in Paris compares to the one in Barcelona. Although the same structure, the color and design of each are so different and fit the vibe of the different cities. For example, putting Barcelona’s brown Arc de Triomf in Paris would look SO out of place, and vice versa.

Next to the Arc is the iconic Champs de Elysse street, lined with infinite shops and restaurants (kind of like Paris’s version of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas). We wandered around the stores, wishing we could afford that 6,000 euro watch from Cartier. Paris is for dreaming, right?!

After dinner and more croissants, we decided to explore Paris’ nightlife by checking out the Oberkampf and Bastille neighborhoods. The nightlife scene in these districts was a very unique, “underground” vibe. However, Parisians also LOVE their Spanish music, so we ended our night dancing at a club to the same songs we would hear in Barcelona.

On Saturday, we spent the majority of our day at the Louvre museum. Pro-tip: if you show a copy of your EU student visa, entry is free! We marveled at all different works of art, from the Ancient Greeks to Egyptians to the Mona Lisa (which is way smaller in person than I ever imagined it would be!). Afterwards, we took the metro to the Notre Dame Cathedral where we marveled at its beauty and French Gothic architecture, while munching on delicious warm Nutella-coconut crepes. Saturday night we went back to the Eiffel Tower, but this time we squeezed on a crowded elevator which brought us to the very top. Seeing Paris from the top of the tower at night felt like an absolute dream and the view was incredible.

Since our flight back to Barcelona was in the early afternoon on Sunday, we had just enough time to squeeze in one last tourist activity in Paris, so we decided to visit the Sacre Couer Basilica. The basilica sits at the top of Montmarte Hill which is the highest point in the city. We could have taken a funicular to the top, however being the cheap travelers we are, we decided to climb the stairs to the top. Although we were out of breath, the views at the top were fantastic and well worth the hike. Before making our way back to Orly airport, we explored the Montmarte neighborhood as we made our way down the hill, and picked up some macaroons while we were at it. It was a sweet ending to a dreamy trip in the city of love. Je t’aime Paris, until next time xoxo

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 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!"

By mekaylatucker

Bonjour à Tous!!

I cannot believe that this semester is coming to a close, it has been such an amazing experience and the people I have met through my volunteering have only amplified this. I have to say that since the beginning of this journey with Serve the City: Paris I always knew that it would be the place where I felt I could be the most help and this has proven to be true. I have been able to take on more responsibilities than I thought I would have been able to, like coming up with projects to help get food out to homeless people.  I have even been able to lead a group of volunteers giving out food.

I have really been able to speak French a good amount because of this opportunity. I really hope that my work at Serve the City: Paris is having a good impact on the local communities especially because each week we focus on a different neighborhood in Paris. I do know if the little things I do will have an impact but I hope I have at least made an impact with the organization. I am so grateful for this time! I have learned so much! This week will be my last week and I really hope that I take the skills I have learned this semesterrs and take it with me on my next endeavors


Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting my parents and sister in Paris. Amongst the long list of tourist attractions and miles that we walked over eight short days, the most interesting of the bunch was certainly the reunion with my distant French relatives.

Family is an interesting concept to me because you can fiercely define it in so many different ways. Some people say that family is through blood, but then others feel closer to those with whom they are not biologically linked.

Over the course of my time in Paris, I have come to consider my host family as a true family in its own right: we may not share the same genetics or sometimes even the same language, but we care for one another and we feel comfortable. What more do you need?

Some say that my passion for the French language and culture is derived from my family history: my great-grandfather and namesake Maurice was French and a Parisian in the twentieth century. Not much is known about my family's connection to France, except that we have two living relatives in the heart of Paris. My parents arrival gave me the courage to finally reach out and to establish a relation with them.

...continue reading "La Famille"

By Marissa Kirshenbaum

This weekend, I went on my last weekend trip, this time to Barcelona. It's hard to admit that this would be my last time jetting off to a new country for the weekend: my last time trying new foods, seeing different cultural sights, and hearing a language other than French spoken by the locals. I have enjoyed immensely this opportunity to travel beyond my limits, and live life fully in the moment, treating every day like a vacation.

For every trip that I went on, I was welcomed with different reactions from my peers. When I went to Italy, I was told that it would be beautifully sunny and photogenic. When I went to Morocco, I was told that I would have a significant cultural experience. When I went to Belgium, I was told to eat the fries, the chocolate, and the waffles. And when I went to Spain this weekend, I was told to watch out for my belongings because people would want to steal my phone and passport.

Before I set off for Paris, I had a lot of people warn me about how unsafe it is here. They put ideas in my mind that this beautiful and magical city was also violent and untrusting, that I would be lucky if I made it back without having something pickpocketed. I let these ideas fester in my mind, and for the first few weeks I jumped whenever somebody stood too close to me on the Metro or when somebody came on board asking in a loud and demanding voice for some spare change.

...continue reading "Warmth Over Worry"

By Marissa Kirshenbaum

My host father was a high-level government employee when he was in the workforce. His life is a political sphere: he has friends running for office, weekly outings to different departments in France, and exclusive access to some of the country's most elite gatherings. One of these get-togethers was last Tuesday. A spectacle featuring one of Paris' most beloved rappers and actors of the generation and crawling with celebrities and important political figures, the night was meant to capture the history of France through its different texts in the elaborate setting of the Assemblée Nationale. And I was lucky enough to attend.

My host father spends his free time guest lecturing at a "professional" high school down the street. This term is what we attempting Parisians like to call a "faux ami", because it translates directly to an English word yet means something totally different. In France, there are two different tracks you can take when you are in high school: the general track or the professional track. The general refers to all students who wish to attend college and pursue a career with an academic prerequisite. The professional, therefore, refers to "vocational learning", and tends to be comprised of the underprivileged student population. In France, you are sorted into these different paths early in your high school career, and from there, your life is laid out for you. Unforgiving to those who do not bode well with the school system during a certain point in time, it seems that in my opinion, the French tracking system is concrete and determinant.

My host father took his "professional" students to this event at the Assemblée Nationale last Tuesday, an impressive opportunity for them to see their representatives and legislation in person. However, these students did not seem to take much interest in the tour of the building, and seemed restless throughout the whole night. Their teacher told me personally that they don't have the desire to travel like I do during my study abroad experience, and that they rarely sign up for trips like this one if they are not required to.

...continue reading "Professionalism"