Amanda Pelisari - 2014 Program Participant

Study abroad students in Normandy

IES weekend trip to Normandy.

What made you choose IES for your study abroad experience?

I chose IES because of the ease and support they provided as well as the programs offered. The programs offered by IES provided the right balance of academic rigor, cultural immersion, and independence. Because the program information, including course description, syllabus, and logistics were all online or in pamphlets, I was able to realize my plans much earlier than my actual departure date. They were extremely helpful in answering any questions as well as supportive in the visa process.

Explain a normal day as an IES Paris program participant.

A normal day in the IES Paris Business and International Affairs program consisted of commuting to class, attending lectures, and most importantly, a morning croissant. The IES Abroad Center was always bustling with activity as students moved in and out of classes, even going on field trips for certain subjects like Art History. Lunch was usually purchased from the local boulangerie just around the corner in between classes. After class, depending on my schedule, I either returned to my homestay or went out to explore the city and eat dinner with classmates. Paris offers so many opportunities for afterschool activities: museums, parks, cafés, or simply walking the streets to window shop. Nothing was ever the same day-to-day, something I loved about the city and program.

Goofey at Disneyland in Paris, France

Amanda, her housemate, and Goofy, at Disneyland Paris.

What type of accommodation did you choose to stay in while in Paris?

I chose to stay in a homestay while in Paris. I lived with a single divorced woman and her adorable Yorkie. Her apartment was small but very cozy, including a full kitchen and three bedrooms. I lived with another girl in the program which made for a nice form of companionship. We each were given our own private bedroom. Our host mom provided breakfast everyday as well as dinner three times a week. I was very satisfied with everything provided and liked the location because it was near the school premises and a bit outside of center city. 

Looking back on your time in Paris, what was the most memorable experience you had?

It’s extremely difficult to narrow it down to just one memory, but one of my favorite nights was definitely Thanksgiving in Paris. The program held a Thanksgiving dinner for the students and staff in a lovely restaurant not far from school. Despite not being traditional, the night was absolutely enjoyable. We all ate delicious food, drank plenty of wine, and spoke of so many things, learning more about everyone and appreciating the diversity in our program. I felt so at home and happy to be surrounded by my new friends celebrating life, love, and good food. Afterwards, we went out on the town for some salsa dancing and a birthday for one of our friends in the program. It was a great night filled with great people.

Mother and daughter in France

Amanda with her mom, who came to visit her over fall break.

How has your experience studying abroad in Paris impacted your life?

Studying abroad has forever changed my life. I’ve become more confident and understanding. I appreciate the struggle of communication, especially when not in your native language. Patience is always important as well as being resourceful. Moving across the world means changes to your lifestyle, and while you might not like every single aspect of your new life, or not be able to find certain things you’re used to, that’s half the fun! You learn to adapt and use the resources you do have available. But overall, I believe the biggest change has been my independence level. Overall, I feel very comfortable being myself and being by myself. I’m much more confident in my ability to succeed and take care of myself, while still remembering I have a support system at home.

What important tips can you give future participants of the IES Abroad Paris program?

I would definitely research and figure out what you want to do while in Paris. Make a list and don’t leave everything to the end in a mad scramble, as I did. I would also advise you to explore all parts of the city, including places like the Paris “Chinatown”. We found really delicious affordable food there and it was fun to mix it up. Additionally, go to the fresh food markets. It may be intimidating if you don’t speak French, but it’s fascinating and fun to see different food and meet some local people. The antique markets at Clignancourt are a lot of fun for an afternoon too. Finally, I think budgeting is a huge part of going abroad, but particularly in Paris where the cost of living is higher than most. Don’t be afraid to indulge, but keep track of your finances.