Living in Paris and going to school here for the last three weeks I have made some interesting observations about the students here, as well as some firsthand experiences. The first day of classes everyone received a French student ID card. We were handed a piece of lamented paper with our name, picture, id number, and a Parisian school address stamp on the front and back. I did not know at the time that this one lamented card held so much value in this city. With a French student ID card, so many opportunities were opened up to take advantage of. That little card got me into a handful of museums, historical sites, and tourist attractions free of charge. I got to explore all the exhibits in the Palace of Versailles, walk to the top of Notre Dame, wander for hours in the Louvre, travel underground in the Catacombs, and visited the Pantheon without pulling any Euros out of my pocket.
Parisians show a lot of appreciation towards their students here. It doesn’t matter if you are in kindergarten or in your last year of college, Paris will take care of you. It makes things accessible for students to go out and explore the rich history that their city holds. Walking through the Louvre, I noticed groups of students who were doing their homework there. Some were sketching a piece of artwork for class. Others sat near the benches inside just to have a quiet place to read. At the Catacombs, I saw a group of teens meet up to explore the area for their Friday night. It is nice to see the students out and about emerging themselves in all the resources that are provided for them. It really made me wish that students back home had more accessibility than just discounts to the movie theaters.
Another observation about students I had was on the metro. As I’m riding the metro, waiting for my stop to make it to class by 9:30 am, I realized there really aren’t any children out on the metro at this time. I brush it off assuming they are at school. However, as I am riding the metro around 3:00 pm to head back to my apartment, I notice there still aren’t a lot of kids around. The next day I approach one of my lecturers about it and she explained that in Paris students regularly go to school from 8:00am to 4:00pm. She also mentions that in many school districts students usually go to school Monday to Thursday and sometimes Saturday. Fridays are meant for students to have a full break from school. Times and dates for schools differ for college students of course but besides that a majority of children have the same school schedules.
Overall, my time spent studying abroad has help me learn things beyond the classroom. Just being in a foreign country I get to observe things that normal tourists that come here don’t get a chance to notice because they are busy trying to see everything in a sort amount of time. My kindergarten to college years were spent in the California school system and I have become accustomed to the student lifestyle there. Being at school by 8:00 am and done by 2:45 pm. Being able to live here for a short time, I was able to get a new perspective on the education system outside of my own. Thanks to studying aboard I can really immerse myself as a student here and take advantages of the benefits that a typical French student would receive. How many times in my life can I say, I was a French student!