I think that I was lucky to be chosen as one of the exchange students who were selected to go to the University Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle in France. Ever since I became a student majoring in French Language and Literature at Ewha, I have always dreamed of studying in the “City of Light,” where my favorite authors and their literary works were born. At the same time, I wanted to have an opportunity to learn the French culture and society first hand.
University Paris III, one of the faculties of the former Sorbonne – I hereby confess that I was fascinated by the impression the value of “Sorbonne” gives – is famous for humanities and arts; especially for linguistics, literature, theatre, cinema and cultural projects.
More than 850 international students visit and study at Paris III every year. One third of 18,000 students at Paris III are from foreign countries. Indeed, their nationalities vary: Spanish, Italian, Czech, American, Chinese, Japanese and much more.
To be honest, the first two months at Paris III were really difficult for me. I was not able to fully understand what professors were talking about during classes, and the school system was unfamiliar. For some reason, I was also scared to speak to all the other French students and ask for help; maybe I was diffident because of the fact that I was a foreigner who could not speak fluent French. I was embarrassed, and even felt ashamed of myself.
However, fortunately, those kinds of problems were slowly solved. I did not even know how to write a paper about literary texts at first.I had to observe and follow the way other students took lessons and submitted their works. I kept learning and asking questions point by point, and corrected my mistakes thanks to the help of professors. Finally, I adapted to the university life at Paris III. In my daily life, I learned how to manage unexpected troubles by myself and to communicate with people who do not share the same emotion or way of thinking due to cultural differences.
At some points, I found myself accustomed and comfortable in Paris. It was the repetition of being a normal student at Paris III, and being a wanderer – or an undercover tourist – outside. I loved being alone, having my own time and taking a walk alongside Seine river with no destination, admiring the scenery of green trees and blue sky. When I was with my friends, those who encouraged me while I was going through hard times, I realized that I had so many precious friends around me with whom I could talk to about on any topic.
After coming back home to Seoul, I am now sure that I was happy enough in Paris: I was happy to learn new things, read novels I had never heard of in Korea, have a sort of independent life out there, and find myself grown up at least a little bit. Right now, I am so glad because I know that I am not the same person I was half a year ago.
* Jeong Yeon (French, 4) studied at University Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle in France.