College '23 Isabela Viswanath

SA: Columbia in Paris: Reid Hall


  • SA: Columbia in Paris: Reid Hall

Ask me about...

  • Taking classes in a different language at a local university

  • Exploring a metropolitan city

  • Traveling domestically and internationally

My Experience Abroad:

I am majoring in Romance Languages: French & Spanish, so I knew I wanted to study abroad to get the full cultural and language immersion that I could not get in Philadelphia. I felt that my Spanish was stronger than my French, so I wanted to immerse myself in a French-speaking city to improve my French. I knew I wanted to be in a large city in Europe, so I was attracted to Penn’s program in Paris. With Penn’s connection to the Columbia in Paris: Reid Hall program, I took five courses in French, all of which I was able to count towards my Penn degree, so this was the perfect program for me.

Other Highlights:

  • One of my favorite things about my time in Paris was how much I explored the city! Because of how the assignments were laid out for my classes, I did not have much daily or even weekly work to complete but rather it was heavier during midterms and heaviest during finals. This meant I had a lot of time outside of classes to explore, so my friends and I went to different areas of the city almost every day.

  • I was able to go to L’inauguration des Illuminations des Champs-Élysées [The Inauguration of the Lights on the Champs-Élysées] which is when Paris strings lights in all of the trees along the Champs-Élysées for the holiday season. My friends and I found out about it just a few days before and we thought we would go for just a few minutes to see the lights turn on, but when we got there, the whole street was closed off to cars so it was filled with people and there was a stage with a TV broadcast and music playing.  It ended up being about an hour and a half before they finally turned on the lights, but it felt like a big party, almost New Year’s Eve, with many Parisians flooding the streets, and ended up being a lot of fun.

  • My program bought us tickets to a concert which ended up being really fun. To attend was another kind of spontaneous decision with my friends because it was the middle of the week and we didn’t even know the artist, but I’m so glad we went. We discovered a new, up-and-coming Francophone artist, Pierre de Maere, got to see a beautiful Parisian concert venue called the Trianon, and the performance was really fun to witness too.

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