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September 25, 2015

Abigail Briggs ’16
Abigail Briggs ’16 is currently studying abroad through Asbury University’s Paris Semester

Asbury University senior Abigail Briggs is currently studying abroad through Asbury’s Paris Semester, a 15-credit-hour semester in Paris, France, open to students from all majors. Below, Abigail reflects on life, learning and new perspectives in Paris.

I never expected to participate in Asbury’s Paris Semester — it was highly specific, it would take me away from my comfort zone in Wilmore and I thought it would be way too expensive. Boy, was I wrong — because here I am, typing away on a cozy bunk bed in no other place than Paris. It was 100 percent a God thing, and it has been quite possibly the best experience of my life.

Taking the Paris Semester was a great choice for several reasons. Paris is a place full of rich history, music, art and people from all over the world — a dream for a liberal arts nerd like me. Plus, I’m fulfilling my Cross-Cultural Engagement requirement, completing my International Communications internship, taking classes relevant to my major, meeting new people and challenging myself to be an active agent for Christ. Not to mention I’m living in Paris.

One thing I’ve learned so far — don’t be afraid to take risks. You try to speak French and the man responds, “Je comprends rien—blah blah blah.” Give yourself grace, laugh it off and try again. You decide to lead a group adventure somewhere (Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame for example), but get the group slightly lost — no big deal. These are growing moments and opportunities to respond in a grace-filled way.

Second, you can make deep friendships no matter the culture. So many people are bustling through this city, but if you stop and make time to meet up with people, you will find the deepest of friendships.

three students in front of the Eiffel Tower
From left: Amy Gatliff, Alexa Goins and Katie Palmer are also part of Asbury University’s Paris Semester

Third, Dr. Linda Stratford — our program leader — knows her stuff, and she will rock your world if you let her. At first, Paris just seemed beautiful and old with a hint of lingering history that I didn’t know too much about. But now it just screams with specific, integrating stories and narratives that I know are spiraling together even today, continuing to shape this wonderful culture.

Finally, Paris has expanded my perspective. It has revealed the intricacy of my faith and challenged my outlook, from my understanding of politics and the assumed infrastructure of America to my understanding of schools and how education should be run. Not that it’s totally unraveling all my presuppositions; it’s just that Paris is humbling my perspective, making me realize that I understand the world in a very specific way, no matter how open minded I might claim to be.

The Paris Semester is a life-changing experience that can allow for so much growth. You’ll never know all the ins and outs of what you’re getting yourself into, so it’s OK if you’re nervous. Also, don’t let finances keep you from applying — Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will provide). So my advice to anyone who’s considering taking Paris Semester is just apply. You won’t regret it. 

— Abigail Briggs ‘16

Launched in 2014, Asbury University’s Paris Semester is a 12-week immersive experience in Paris, France, providing a full, 15-hour semester of liberal arts credit. Open to students from all majors, the Paris Semester is a highly affordable program, offering the same per-credit-hour rate as on-campus courses. The program runs September through November. Applications for next year’s Paris Semester are due February 2016. To learn more about Asbury’s Paris Semester and to apply, visit: asbury.edu/paris