Irini Sfyris, along with 14 other University Honors students, took part in an interdisciplinary seminar over spring break to explore the 21stcentury city of Paris. The trip included tours to major museums and monuments as well as a trip to Versailles.
By: Maria Roos '13
“Traveling has always been a big part of my life, and I’ve been all over Europe, but never to Paris,” says Sfyris, a biomedical engineering student from Cincinnati. “I’ve been studying French since the 7th grade and actually declared my French minor last year. I really wanted to see the city we’ve talked about in many of my classes and get a chance to practice my French in a real-world setting.”
To prepare for the trip, Sfyris studied French to get her language skills back in shape – her last French class was junior year of high school. Her preparation paid off.
“I loved being able to talk with people I met in Paris,” she says. “I never feel like I’ve fully experienced a place unless I can communicate with the people who live there. It just adds a whole other dimension.”
Sfyris and the honors group visited museums, churches, monuments and neighborhoods to fully understand the culture of Paris. She learned that it is good to push oneself to try new things.
“Each new experience in life changes you in some way. I suppose this trip has given me the confidence to know that I could go to France and be completely independent at my language level right now,” Sfyris says. “It makes the possibility of a more long-term study abroad trip more realistic.”
Sfyris will definitely go back to Paris one day to live a “Parisian life,” she says. Being a tourist is fun, but she has only seen one part of Paris, and she wishes to explore other aspects of the city as well. Seeing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame was “magical,” she says, and being able to share the experience with a group of students is something she has enjoyed the most.
Sfyris encourages other students to study abroad. She thinks it is worth it, especially for students who have never traveled before. “Traveling is a great experience, and you will learn and grow so much from every new place you visit,” she says. “You should definitely take advantage of the opportunities available at UC, because they don’t come so easily after you graduate.”