Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February  24, 2017

France 3

Students and faculty visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Students Learn Life Lessons 'Inside France'

Tanner Edge

Students and faculty went “inside” France during January to experience the culture from an insider’s perspective. Led by French professor Janina Traxler and psychology professor Marcie Coulter-Kern, the group of 14 students shunned tour buses for public transportation, enabling the students experience what it is like to live in the city.

Students learned about the history, culture and the everyday life of France. Everyone used public transportation, so not only were they learning curriculum but also they were learning how to adapt to taking the subway, tramway, train and bus. “The biggest thing I learned during the trip was how to use public transportation and how to navigate in big cities,” said sophomore LiaAmia Gregory. 

Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg were the three main destinations while in France due to their rich historical backgrounds and contemporary facets of French culture. The group stayed at each destination for about five days each and visited art museums, historical monuments and places of worship.
In Paris, the group visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower on the first day. Each evening, the class split up into multiple groups and ate at different local restaurants to experience their own taste of French cuisine. While in Paris, the group toured Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel with Gothic-style architecture, the Louvre, the world’s second largest museum and art museums and historical monuments such as the Musée de Orsay, the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Arc de Triomphe.
After their time in Paris, the group rushed through the train station and took a four-hour train ride south to Lyon. 

In Lyon, the group took a tour of traboules, or secret passageways that were built in the fourth century. The class also visited ruins of an amphitheater, took a tour that passed murals throughout the city and visited the Resistance and Deportation History Center.
After the course of a few days, the class ventured to their last destination of Strasbourg. Here the group toured the European Parliament building, took of tour of Alsace neighborhoods and visited an Alsace museum. 
As the last days of the trip were winding down, students still were not prepared to leave France. “It was difficult to fully understand the culture since we were only in each place for less than a week, but I gained such an appreciation for the overall atmosphere of France,” said junior Spencer Thomas. “The trip certainly made me want to return as soon as I can.”

While exploring each of these sites, the students also learned about social diversity. “I learned about French culture, the French language and the art of traveling internationally,” said sophomore Carly Kwiecien.
She explained that some people haven’t had their “first time” for many things in life, such as their first time on an airplane or their first time being in a different country. “One of my fondest memories was making friends with the man sitting next to me for the ten-hour plane ride to Paris. There’s so much out there to explore and so many people I still want to meet.”

Similarly, this trip was the first time junior Hunter Gaerte found herself appreciating art and French culture. “It made me want to learn so much more,” she said. “I learned to live out my dream instead of just dreaming about it. It made me want to do something great with my life and stop wasting time because there are so many amazing places to see in this world.”

The students certainly learned a large handful of things, whether it was class related or life related. “I think the biggest thing I learned was traveling in a group and having patience with everyone when you’re experiencing jet lag, haven’t slept or are missing home,” said Kwiecien with a laugh. “That’s something I am always trying to improve.”

Gregory appreciated the experience. “I recommend studying abroad because you learn how to travel and be a citizen of the world,” she said. 

Gaerte recommends traveling during January session to everyone. “It is such an amazing experience and it’s really the only time in your life where you will be able to travel the world for such a low cost and get to visit so many places at the same time.“