Emily Poché - 2015 Program Participant

What made you choose Paris as your study abroad destination?

I definitely knew that I wanted to go to a big city. I go to a very traditional university that’s not very close to any major cities, so I knew I wanted to get the experience of living in a city before I was out of school. Also, I had been to Paris before and I completely fell in love with it. Naturally, I wanted to spend more time in what I consider to be the most wonderful city in the world. Paris is amazing! The food is fantastic, it’s the fashion capital of the world, and there are still huge open green spaces. I wouldn’t have been able to handle living somewhere without plenty of gardens and parks. As a French major, I also knew I wanted somewhere that I could put my language skills to good use, so I naturally had to choose a program in a francophone country.

Apartment in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, France

Emily’s home stay apartment in the 16th arrondissement - Photo Courtesy of Emily Poché

What were your housing arrangements in France like?

I lived in a homestay with a retired widow who worked part-time. I also had a housemate, but we each had separate bedrooms. We shared a huge bathroom, which had legitimately the best shower I’ve ever used. I had access to the kitchen, but also got breakfast daily and three dinners a week. Our host mom was a great cook! I actually took her mushroom tart recipe home with me I loved it so much. We had access to a washer, but there was no dryer in the apartment. This was something that took a little time getting used to. Overall, the building was a beautiful, very clean, old Hausmann style apartment in the 16th arrondisement. It was basically perfect, in my opinion.

What was the biggest challenge you faced abroad?

I broke a tooth on my second week in a brand new city! Needless to say, I was totally overwhelmed (and a little emotional because it was my front tooth). In another language, I had to find a dentist near me, schedule an appointment, get there, and then navigate the French national healthcare system. On the bright side, I have the most unique study abroad souvenir of all time...a brand new French tooth.

Church along a river in Paris, France

Biking around Paris is the way to get Instagram worthy shots! - Photo Courtesy of Emily Poché

What are the top reasons you'd want to go back to Paris?

I still feel like I’ve left so much unseen in Paris. That’s the best thing about the city, you never run out of things to do and see. Every week there’s a new show, exhibition, or event going on, so trying to manage seeing them, plus friends and school meant I still feel like I could spend months and months in Paris without running out of things to do. Of course, I also love French food. It doesn’t hurt that I also would love to go back to France to use my language skills. Since leaving, I’m a little nostalgic for my days of speaking French all day every day.

Would you recommend your IES Abroad program to others?

I would certainly recommend my IES Abroad program to others. I felt as if there were so many options to tailor the program to your individual interests and wishes, between choosing your housing option, to having an internship or optional trips. I had a fantastic experience and I can only hope other students on the program would have the same.

View of the Eiffel Tower from the banks of the Seine in Paris, France

A view of the Eiffel Tower from the banks of the Seine - Photo Courtesy of Emily Poché

What important tips can you give to future program participants?

First of all, really committing yourself to only using French will make the experience a lot more satisfying and rewarding. After the second week, it gets so much easier. Second of all, participating in the contests is a great way to win awesome prizes like free tickets to the Opera, and brunch at Angelina’s--things I probably wouldn’t have paid for on my own. Last, I can’t underestimate the power of wearing all black and having lots of scarves when living in Paris. You’ll blend right in.

Did you experience any kind of reverse culture shock upon re-entry to the U.S.?

I don’t think I experienced any real kind of reverse culture shock, although I do get awfully nostalgic about my days living in Paris. I also do miss speaking French all the time, and when I hear people speaking in French in public now my brain kind of zones in on their conversation to see if I can still understand them!

If you could go on another IES Abroad program which one would you choose? 

I think since I got to fully immerse myself in my French program, if I could go again I’d focus on my love of international affairs. I’d love to do the EU program in Freiburg. Or, more realistically, I love Paris too much and would go back and do the Business and International Affairs Program