Joshua Brand of Saskatoon is majoring in philosophy and French through the College of Arts and Science. He has recently embarked on a journey to France through the Study Abroad program and while there, he took language classes (Phonetics, Syntax, Comparative Modern Languages—all in French) at Université Paris-Sorbonne.
Joshua sent us some photos of his adventure, and answered a few questions about his experience.
Did you visit any other countries? If yes, which ones? Which was your favorite and why?
It’s so accessible to travel when based in Paris, so I had to take advantage. I hopped the Channel a couple of times over to London, bussed to Amsterdam, flew for a weekend in Nice and Èze, and did day trips around the Île-de-France region. Each one was incredible, but Drubrovnik in Croatia was probably my favourite. It was the most different from Paris. It was filled with a tiny, but strong-walled old town and beautiful beaches in the city and nearby islands. Being able to swim in the Adriatic for a week is nothing to complain about!
What are two interesting things about the country that the average person may not know?
I think France is already pretty well known to Canadians, but I think the extents of its features aren’t. Paris is an old city and full of history and it’s amazing to just walk around and see everything. Around the corner from my apartment is the Panthéon, where Marie Curie, Voltaire, Rousseau, and many more are buried. Twenty steps away from the apartment is another where philosopher René Descartes lived. There are cafés in Saint-Germain where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir would often frequent. Everywhere I would walk, I found places where extremely influential people lived their ordinary lives. That was truly incredible to experience.
What did you learn about yourself?
While before the study abroad I did consider myself quite independent, pushing myself to move to another country really broadened my idea of what it means to be independent. I had to live without parental support in the same city, without the comfort of lifelong friends, and at a university which has an entirely different system in place. It of course is all very daunting in the beginning, but it pushed me to become more aware of who I am as an individual and I will always be grateful that I got to experience that.
What was the best meal you had?
While I did enjoy amazing pieces of saint nectaire and comté, croque monsieur and tartare de bœuf are my two go-to memories. Croque monsieur (ham, cheese, and béchamel baked with pain de mie bread) is an inexpensive bistro classic that always warmed me up sitting outside in the early months of the year. Tartare de bœuf (raw beef with egg yolk and other toppings) is so delicious and coupled with the perfect fries and a pint of beer, nothing can go wrong. I recommend the bistro at the corner of Le Bon Marché.
Did you make any accidental cultural faux-pas?
Being too friendly. I should clarify that the French are by no means rude people, they’re actually some of the best people that I have met, they are just very reserved in public. In Canada, smiling at a stranger on the metro would be considered friendly and socially acceptable, but it is a big no-no in Paris. Women especially refrain. If one pushes themselves enough to smile at a stranger on public transport, it usually signals that you desire something way beyond friendship.