By Caitlin Roman
Going to Paris with Dr. Rader and the rest of our little group was the most amazing experience. It was my very first trip outside of the country, and I was the first in my family to even get a passport. There are so many things about the trip that I can talk about; I could probably fill a book with all of my stories. When most people recount stories of their trips, they talk about the sites they visited or the food they ate, their favorite parts. One of my favorite things about the trip encapsulates all of that really, but it is not something people really mention when they talk about their trip. I’m talking about how we mainly got around the city- walking. We walked almost everywhere, and one day we covered about 16-18 miles just by walking. Walking gave us certain liberties that other modes of transportation, like the metro or a bus, would not. For one, when you are walking around a city, you are in the city, not underground like on the metro. You are allowed to walk down a street and stop to look at an interesting building because you are not confined to a certain route in an enclosed space like you are on a bus. In fact, this was how we stumbled upon some of the sites we did see. One day, we were walking over to the Right Bank to see la Madeleine and a few other sites when we found the house of 12th century writers Abelard and Heloise. We would never have seen that or learned about these two writers if we did not happen to walk past their residence that day. On that very same day, we were walking down one street and happened upon a candy store and bought some delicious French candy. Those are only two examples of our many accidental discoveries. When we returned to the U.S., Dr. Rader added everything that we did and saw to the itinerary she planned before the trip. The final document more than doubled in size! It was all because of our walking and discovering.
Besides all of the accidental discoveries, my favorite experience has to be climbing Notre Dame. That was our first stop after dropping our bags off at the hotel. When we first went to Notre Dame, I thought we would just be looking around inside and climbing a little ways up the cathedral. Dr. Rader had put in the itinerary that we would be climbing the tower, but in no way did I expect to be hanging out with the gargoyles on the almost tippy-top of the massive church. The view from the top of Notre Dame was incredible. The sky was a perfect blue, and you could really see for miles. Looking out over the city, it finally hit me that I am halfway across the world with some of my best friends. It did not seem like I was really in Paris until I saw the city stretched out before me. I was on an adventure of a lifetime and planned on enjoying every second of it, and I certainly did. Traveling to Paris was a truly remarkable experience, one that I hope to repeat many more times.