INT 255: French Art in Paris – A Study Abroad

INT 255: French Art in Paris – A Study Abroad

Study abroad is one option for students to achieve their experiential learning credit while at Thomas More. Alivia Friend recounts her time in Paris, as a student abroad learning about art. 

Submitted by Alivia Friend, Thomas More Student

In summer 2023, I and my fellow peers had the privilege to go to Paris, France, on a study abroad class through Thomas More University – Int 255 French Art in Paris with professors Florence Dwyer, Ph.D. and Becky Bilbo, Ph.D. This experience brought a lot of firsts for me, which I believe helped me grow as a person while learning inside and outside of the classroom. I had never traveled outside of the country before without my family and I was traveling with students I didn’t know before taking the class and trip. This forced me to get out of my comfort zone and to talk to students I don’t think I would have talked to, except for this experience. My roommate for the trip is now one of my best friends.

While on the trip we were asked to write at least a page every day in our journals after we got back to our rooms and describe what we did that day and what we learned. It might seem annoying at first, but I am glad we did this exercise as now I have a journal which includes everything I did and matches the pictures I took each day. The trip went like this:

Day 1: Wednesday, June 7

Alivia Friend with her best friend Erin Preston on the deck of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Today was the first day in Paris. We got in four hours later than planned due to plane problems, arriving at around 1 p.m. We went to lunch; I really loved the lasagna, not so much the salad, but that could be the dressing. The dessert was really rich because the chocolate is different. We went back to where we were staying to unpack and change for our first activity which was the Eiffel Tower!! Due to it being so windy we could not go to the very top but the level we could go to was high enough. There are four ways to go up, one on each leg. There were restaurants and shops on the levels, which surprised me but is great marketing. Once we came down, we saw locals trying to sell us things like key chains, little Eiffel Towers, toys, etc. I did get five key chains to bring back home for people. Lastly, I tried my first crepe with chocolate. I really liked it, it was made at a stand right outside and it was cool to watch it being made in front of me.

Day 2: Thursday, June 8

Erin Preston and Alivia Friend pose in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

The time change really hit me. We landed at 1 p.m. the day before and went straight to lunch and walking around, therefore I didn’t feel the time change right away. Waking up at 7 a.m. in Paris, when it is 1 a.m. in Kentucky, was very odd. I was asleep by 10 p.m. and up by 6 a.m. the next day. The sun is up at 4 a.m. and out until 10 p.m. during June; that much sunlight also messed me up a little. Today was our first full day. We started by going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. You could see so much up that high. The stairs up and down, was like a leg day at the gym; then we walked two miles to an art museum where the Olympia Paintings were. After the museum, a few of us went to check out designer stores. We tried McDonalds. I did not like it, but they had way more choices than in America. After, the whole group met up and changed clothes to see the Eiffel Tower at night. It did not disappoint; it was so pretty and made for really cool pictures. We sat in grass and took in the atmosphere and talked about what we liked about the day and what we want to do in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower at night.

Day 3: Friday, June 9

Erin Preston, Alivia Friend, Madison Rae, and Kay Baker in the gardens of Giverny.

The weather was amazing! We took an hour train ride out to Fondation Monet in Giverny. When we arrived, we found a spot on the grass to have a picnic. The French are known for having big lunches with family; therefore, we got different foods to try. We had cheese, meats, bread, crackers, and cookies. Once we were done eating, we headed inside to look at Monet’s home, that he lived in until his passing. The home was older, and it was cool to see the decorations from that time-period. The garden around the house was so pretty, I made sure to get lots of pictures. After everyone had seen the whole place, we headed back. All the students decided to go out and try a restaurant that college students hang out at. We saw a lot of students playing cards. I tried the pizza, and I personally didn’t like it because it was made of goat cheese. However, I did enjoy the French fries and the atmosphere. Overall, a really good day.

Day 4: Saturday, June 10

We started the day on a boat ride to see the city from a different view. I found this very relaxing and peaceful. Afterwards we ate at the Restaurant Polidor. This was, hands down, my favorite restaurant of the whole trip. I had ravioli, chicken, mashed potatoes, and sorbet ice cream. Then we took a tour of the Senate. After leaving the Senate, some friends and I explored little shops around Sacre-ceur Basilica to get another amazing view of the whole city. We went inside this big, beautiful church, all around were little shops and artists. Lastly, before it started raining, we were able to stop and try a little restaurant where they make everything in house. I had amazing, fresh pasta which I really enjoyed. It started raining, so we went back and went to sleep. It was an exhausting day.

Day 5: Sunday, June 11

Today, three of us got up and went to see Place du Pantheon and the gardens outside the Senate before everyone met up. We had a late meet up time due to the metro being shut down. I don’t see how locals can get around on time when the metro is down, but I guess they know short cuts. We went to a street market to try fresh food made by locals and we ate at the park. I had fried rice and potatoes; it was pretty good. I enjoyed shopping local and helping small businesses. We then went to the famous Du Louvre, which holds the Mona Lisa. She is very protected with bullet proof glass and security all around. I also picked out two painting that will be talked about in my final paper. After, some of us went to dinner together and watched the rain fall. Then I went back and started to map out my final paper before bed.

Day 6: Monday, June 12

Today was our last full day together as a group. We started at the National Archives, seeing hotels in Paris, then went to a more modern art museum which reminded me of the Creation Museum back home. We got a lot of cool pictures, then we walked to Notre Dame. We couldn’t go in due to the rebuilding going on because of the 2019 fire. After Notre Dame, a few of us packed our bags and took the RER to a Disneyland hotel to stay the night. We walked around the Disney Village and had some food and shopped the Disney Stores before heading to bed.

Alivia Friend and fellow world travelers take in Disneyland Paris.

Day 7: Tuesday, June 13

This was our free day. Six students, including myself, picked up and went to Disneyland Paris. I had so much fun, two friends and I got in early because we stayed at the Disney Hotel the night before. We made sure to hit all the big rides and then headed to the buffet when the lines started to get long. From there, we went shopping to let our stomachs settle; I purchased some souvenirs for my family. We all decided that we should get a pass and check out the other park (Walt Disney Studios Park) since we

accomplished all we wanted on this side. We rode some rides and watched the parade, ate some snacks, and called it quits at 9 p.m. We were there a total of 13 hours. We took the RER back to where everyone else was and packed our bags. We had six hours before we had to be at the airport to head home.

Day 8: Wednesday, June 14

The last day. I only slept three hours after packing my bags and getting ready to leave. We got to the airport, and I ate some quick food to hold me over until the lunch on the plane. On the plane, I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to music until it was lunch time. I had the ravioli, it wasn’t bad. Once we landed, we had to go through TSA to board our plane from New York to home. At home, I unpacked all my bags and looked at my fit app to see how much walking we did. Day 1 was 10,852 steps, Day 2 – 24,439, Day 3 – 17,509, Day 4 – 15,828, Day 5 – 23,661, Day 6 – 22,960, Day 7 – 24,764, and Day 8 11,539. That is 151,552 steps in seven days – just crazy!

I am glad that I made this trip and will return to Paris one day. It was wonderful to try new foods, communicate in a different language, experience the time change, and open the door to another study abroad trip this spring to Japan with Professor Bruce Rosenthal, Ph.D. The scrapbook I made when I came home (it was easy as everything was already organized) will always remind me of what a great time I had making new friends and learning new things during that fantastic summer trip to Paris.