A lot of my time is spent on public transit, so as a result, I’ve at times jotted down my musings into my pocket-sized notebook. The purpose isn’t so much to save my exact words for later, but rather, to simply acknowledge their existence and explore them later when I have a chance. And perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve come across is why I’m in France again, or the assumption that I must really love it here, which in itself holds little truth as a reason for my being here for another year.
Most of the time, I simply shrug and smile, and say that I have no clue what I am doing. But perhaps the one time when I’ve actually given thought to the question of why France again and why for so long when I was having desserts in the East Village at Cha-An with my friend Cooper.
The simplest way I could explain it was that I never experienced Paris or the whole concept of studying abroad for what it was. The context in which I was placed in Paris was different from your average student seeking cultural exploration and adventures worth recanting. I was thrown into the whole mix as a freshman with NYU’s Liberal Studies program – someone that had yet to experience and adjust to the life that college offers – and not as a worn down student seeking change. And admittedly, all the issues facing the fresh-faced college first-year were compounded by my own issues (which are to be discussed at some point later as I become more comfortable with the notion of self-disclosure and transparency).
And it wasn’t until the summertime when I fully began to appreciate Paris and embrace forays into museums and other cultural artifacts. The combination of having adjusted to college classes and schedules, along with my very own apartment (I had previously lived in the same building as everyone in my program whereas the juniors were all dispersed and each had a neighborhood to call their own). In that sense, I suppose I was allowed my freedom that the other juniors had; there was no obligation of a group (though I did pretty much like everyone), which I had been accustomed to since the fourth grade; in which case, I was holding onto the old while trying to experience this new “life.”
At the end of the summer, before I began my sophomore year, I had the resolution to truly study abroad. This entire first year wasn’t truly a study abroad experience; it was a mélange of everything ranging from freshman year to self-affirmation to realizing the need to adjust to a new city in another year. It was simply just the circumstances that placed me in a city different from where many spend their first years at NYU. In that sense, I didn’t really study abroad until I was treated like a regular student taking content and culture courses in the summer with other students (there is this isolation of classes in the first year, where you only interact with others in one language course since you are taking core courses for the remaining 12 credits).
So arrives my applying to study abroad for a full academic year. Steinhardt expressed worries over my decision to do so since only 4 of the 8 classes that were possible in the whole year were contributing to my requirements for my degree in Media, Culture, and Communication. My academic adviser and I took a look at the courses that were offered in Paris, as well as my courses taken to see if there was something that could be done to make the other courses relevant to my situation so as to warrant the whole year abroad. I brought up the fact that since I already had a minor in French, that I could easily turn it into a major within the year. And with some paperwork, it was done – I became a cross-school double major in French and Media, Culture and Communication. It was out of convenience and assurance that I was not to waste a semester’s tuition on irrelevant courses that I opted to declare a double major in French.
And with all that is said, this is perhaps one of my favorite photos from freshman year – my friend Sung (photo from his camera) and I pretending to be zombies on one of our last nights in Paris