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Saturday, January 24, 2015

What to do during Harvard's Winter Break: Study Abroad (and fulfill your sense of wanderlust)

Time not doing homework means more time spent on Facebook, and I couldn't help but get lost in my own Parisian daydreams whilst looking through countless friends' photo albums filled with gorgeous photos detailing their incredible travels. 

The spring at Harvard is a time when most students jet-set to beautiful, foreign countries to spend their spring semester. Most students choose either their sophomore or junior spring to go abroad, but there is still a number that defy the norm and go in the fall. It's really up to the person and what they want to study. But really, a chance to live in a completely new country, meet new people...not to mention try all of the food... for a semester? Incredible!

My friend Sylvia is a Government concentrator, and is spending her spring exploring (and studying, of course!) in Paris, France. She's sharing her thoughts on her experience here!

Study abroad in Paris!
Guest post by Sylvia Marks
Harvard College, '17

The thing that struck me first in Paris was its vast metro system.  This could have had something to do with the fact that I had to take three trains with two suitcases and a backpack to get to my host family from the airport; I suppose I was pretty impressionable at that moment, physically taxed from the amount of luggage at my side, and mentally taxed from trying to not think about the fact that my seatmate on the plane had coughed on me for eight hours straight.  But in regards to the metro, I was pleasantly surprised with the ease at which one could get anywhere in Paris (and cheaply).  I’m here in Paris on Columbia’s program at Reid Hall to study political science and sociology.    I’m still in the midst of choosing my classes, but will likely end up taking two politics-oriented classes (one at the Sorbonne - like a Harvard class… but in French - oy vey), a sociology class on the city of Paris, and two mandatory seminars (one on grammar and one on academic writing).  Since the homework load has been fairly light so far, I’ve used the opportunity to go to all of the famous monuments such as the Eiffel Tower (at least three times), the Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre Dame.  Getting to these places and others (like numerous bakeries to satisfy my constant hunger for pain au chocolats) has depended entirely on the functionality of the metro, which in my mind, is what makes the entire city fit together, and I am glad to have met some extremely interesting people on my program from Harvard and other schools, with whom to experience life in Paris.  I have strolled along the Seine, seen an impressive amount of churches, wandered the Louvre, complimented my meals with a glass of wine (or a baguette, or both) religiously, and smiled every day about the fact that I have the opportunity to live in Paris, France, one of the most exquisite cities in the world, for five months.  Now all I’ve got to do is learn French.


  1. The motivation letter for study abroad is best for you to learn different techniques to write statements.

  2. This looks so amazing! Studying abroad is definitely an interesting cultural experience. I write study abroad essay to get into a program as well. Can't wait! Very, very excited! Best of luck to anyone who are applying as well! You will do fantastic!