I don't really know where to begin when I reflect upon my time abroad. As I tell many, deciding to study abroad in Paris wasn't ever distinct, and I can never pin point the exact moment where I... Kristina Samulewski
Health and Safety
What it means to experience: finding myself in Paris
Submitted by Kristina Samulewski - United States University of Vermont | June 27, 2016
I don't really know where to begin when I reflect upon my time abroad. As I tell many, deciding to study abroad in Paris wasn't ever distinct, and I can never pin point the exact moment where I turned the thought of studying in Paris into an actual decision. It was sort of this natural progression and current pulling me towards France and the desire to explore and see the world. My experience abroad in Paris was magic. Magic because I never knew it was possible to fall in love with a city as much as I did with Paris. Magic because I came to finding out more about myself in just a mere five months than I ever have in my entire college experience thus far. Magic because I discovered what true contentment is and what it can be like. All because of Paris.
Nowadays, I can't think about Paris without getting emotional. So much of myself is wrapped up in that city. I try to recreate my daily route from my apartment to my metro stop…. the corner I would turn onto the busy boulevard, the underpass I would walk under and hope the pigeons wouldn't poop on me, the homeless man who lived in a tent by the underpass, and small corner park where small children would play. And I miss all of it. I miss everything that makes up that daily walk.
I write all this because I want to make it known that it wasn't just the grandeur of Paris that made my study abroad experience as incredible as it was. It was the small things, the minute things that made up my daily life while abroad. And I know without a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't have had such a cherished experience if it weren't for API.
I can say that API was an extraordinary company with which to go abroad. I have previous experience participating in foreign exchange programs during my teenage years, which has equipped me with both an independence and cultural awareness that allowed me to go into my study abroad experience with little apprehension. Yet, despite this past experience, nothing would have been able to equip me for the life-changing experience of living abroad in a foreign country for an entire semester. But API made it completely possible, and also made me feel so resilient and comfortable living abroad. From the beginning of my application process, my program manager in the US respond to EVERY single question I had, with such attention and thoughtfulness. I was also impressed at how quickly I received responses form my program manager in the US. There were times when I would send an email and receive a response within minutes, which not only made me feel taken care of, but that I also mattered, and my well-being mattered too. Because of how wonderful my program manager was throughout my entire application process, I had completely seamless experience prior to departure.
My seamless experience was only furthered upon my arrival in Paris. I came to adore my program directors at the API Paris office. The office became a second home to me, where I was able to go in between classes and eat my lunch, engage with other students, and also speak with my directors. I honestly went to the API office at least 2-3 times a week, if not more. I always felt taken care of with API. No detail was left unnoticed, and because of the recent events that have occurred in Paris with terrorist attacks, I felt that my safety and overall well-being were highly taken into considered and thought after.
I honestly cannot praise API enough for all that they provided me and for caring so much. It made my study abroad experience so much more special. I do not think I would have had the amazing experience I had studying abroad if it weren't for API and all that they did to provide such a unique experience for students to study in Paris. So thank you, API, for being so committed to international education and providing your students with an exceptional study abroad experience. Most of all, thanks for helping me find myself in Paris--I don't think I would have been able to do it without you.