This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks taking a photography course offered on the St. John’s Paris campus taught by Professor George Larkins. The course allowed us to spend those three weeks shooting all over the City of Lights, along with three hours every Monday-Friday to edit and submit our photos for critique.
Being my first time going abroad, I really had no idea what to expect. Before I left, the nerves were settling in. Fantasy was becoming reality when we had our orientation about two months prior to departure.
A representative from the St. John’s Office of Global Studies (OGS) held the orientation and covered everything from transportation to converters and adaptors. The OGS really helped with pre-departure planning to its full extent. Staff members were always there to answer any questions one may have and the World Wide Wednesday Newsletters they provided were extremely helpful. The newsletter had a variety of articles pertaining to expectations, what to do and advice on nearly anything one could imagine relating to going abroad.
Arriving at the St. John’s campus in Paris surpassed my expectations. The location of the campus is in prime real estate, located centrally in the city and near one of the nicest districts, Saint Germain. The dorms and communal bathrooms were kept clean daily.
The staff at the Paris location was very helpful and eager to go out of their way for us. Even if it was just to ask about a local spot to grab some lunch or which Metro to take uptown; the staff members were there to answer any questions.
Paris is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, so in order to keep costs low, many students would purchase their own food and leave it in the communal refrigerator in the kitchen to cook up some quick meals on their own. This is just one of the many ways St. John’s tried to help out with the abroad experience.
St. John’s also provided each student with a NavGo card, which allows access to all Metros and buses within the city limits. This was extremely helpful when going out to do photography assignments.
Most times, my classmates and I would do the tourist-y excursions on our own. By doing that we were able to experience things at our own pace, which was very nice compared to the traditional classroom style of learning that we are all used to. To work hands-on and experience a culture on a more personal level is something out of this world.
The only way to truly get to know a city is to get lost in it and find new corners and spots to fall in love with. The University really pushed us to go out and do just that. By taking the advice of St. John’s, I was able to fall in love and leave my heart in another city; a city that I called home for three weeks. The city of lights and love truly left a mark on my heart and I could only hope other St. John’s students will take advantage of the same opportunity.
To check out Nicole’s photographs of her time in Paris, check out her website at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ngubelli/