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Parisian Experience Sparks Creativity Credit

December 1, 2010 by Eaglecorps911

By Laura Hall When I was asked to write about my travel abroad experience, I was thrilled! Since my return, I’ve been raving about my experience to everyone I know, and now I can rave about my experience to people that I don’t know too! When I saw the flyer last fall I was intrigued by its catchy title, “Cafes, Coffee and Croissants—Writers in the City” (earn three credits for creative writing in Paris). Who wouldn’t be intrigued? Despite my enthusiasm and curiosity, it seemed like an unattainable dream. Add to that the fact that I’m a non-traditional college student; I’m back after a very long break at age 40. I figured that there was no harm in inquiry, so I called the International Center and found out all of the details regarding the trip. The International Education Center staff was more than helpful. I asked how I could get help to pay for the trip and they sent me over to financial aid. Financial Aid helped me work out the financial details and told me that scholarships and state aid money could be applied. I thought to myself…Wow my dream is becoming a reality! I was on my way to Paris. The next step was attending an info session where I met the professors and the other people going on the trip. Professor Suzanne Parker would lead my group of creative writers, while Michael Broek would lead his group of world literature students. They talked about their prior visits to Paris. Their experiences, which made me feel more comfortable knowing I would be there with seasoned Parisian travelers. The itinerary was planned with visits to the city’s most famous spots including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, and a boat ride on the Seine River to name just a few. It was springtime in Paris and the city was in full bloom. The parks and gardens were bursting with vibrant color and the architecture was beautiful. We had class every morning over coffee and croissants and were given a writing prompt each day. Suzanne encouraged us to practice “the art of flanerie” which means to stroll, and take it all in. She told us to look at everything and fully experience every moment, then to explode those moments in our writing. Journaling was required each day and a writing portfolio was to be turned in at the end of the course. The writing was effortless; the city was so beautiful and inspiring, that the writing just flowed out of me. I truly fell in love with Paris; I had a sort of love affair with it! The writing aspect of the trip helped me to capture the essence of my overall travel experience. I sat on park benches that Hemingway sat in as I wrote and reflected. I followed Hemingway’s footsteps through areas of Paris that he frequented such as the bookstore Shakespeare and Company and Luxembourg Gardens. I sat in cafes as he did and wrote over coffee and baguettes and journaled in museums while taking in the great masters’ works of art. I wrote about every moment. My last night in Paris was spent gliding down the River Seine while the Eiffel Tower twinkled behind me in the night sky. I feel so lucky and blessed to have had this experience. I had the opportunity to live in a beautiful foreign city amongst centuries-old, stunning Gothic architecture and to make lasting friendships with fellow students. I got to chat with lovely French college students from the University of Paris at local pubs at night over a beer and a piano sing-a-long (totally breaking the stereotypes I had heard about the French). I also gained a sense of independence while mastering the Parisian metro systems and bus routes during my alone time in the city. I learned a lot about myself and grew immensely as a person, as being exposed to other cultures often does. Travel is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It teaches us a lot about who we are and what matters most to us in life.

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