Passport To Paris With Erica Tukiainen

July 2, 2009

Senior Erica Tukiainen of the UCLA women's basketball team is studying abroad in Paris, France this summer with the UCLA French Department. Tukiainen will be chronicling her summer in Paris with uclabruins.com.

Au Revoir LA, Bonjour Paris!

For this month of July, I have been given a wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France with the UCLA French department. Of course, I cannot forget my fellow Bruins, so I'll be sharing my experiences as I explore the city of history, romance and, of course, cheese. My first few days will be spent with a good friend of mine as we cruise around Paris until my French classes start with the UCLA Program. Paris, here I come!

On June 24th, as I waved goodbye to Los Angeles before entering my airplane, my journey to Paris began. I was excited to learn about the mysterious life and culture of Parisians!

A very looooooong 13 hours later...

It was a warm Thursday night in Paris, and I was stuck in traffic. In the back of the airport shuttle on the way to my hotel, I was amazed by the green scenery, old buildings, very narrow roads and small cars. I had always been under the impression that no other roads in the world could beat the suffocating traffic of the 405 freeway lanes. I was wrong. In the midst of chaos, I held my breath and grasped on to the seat as I witnessed Parisian drivers creating their own lanes (that is, sidewalks), running red lights, and even cutting off pedestrians. Not to mention, there were tons of scooters on the freeway! What a sight! However, I can assure you that I had a very safe driver and made it to my hotel in one piece. Finally, later that night, I was settled in the lovely Hotel Motte de Picquet located by the Eiffel Tower. It was time to eat and experience my first late night 'déjeuner' in one of the corner cafes! Despite the 'food coma' after my lovely dinner, I was ready to plan the events for the next few days.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with all kinds of trips on a tour bus around the city to get to know the various districts, museums, shops and restaurants; I wanted to become more acquainted with the Parisian style of life. Not to mention, I was also on the look-out for a gym and a court so that I could stay in shape for basketball...and not turn into a croissant while in Paris. As a matter of fact, French cuisine is such an important part of the culture. Hence, my mornings were started off with a traditional French breakfast - baguette bread with cheese or chocolate Nutella spread - and then off to the tour bus. We drove by various historical monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, explored the famous museums of Orsay and Louvre, saw the fancy shopping streets, and drooled over the fabulous side-street cafes. I had not found a gym yet, but I did manage to get some exercise in addition to all of the walking. I jogged around the Eiffel Tower! Eventually, I even ran into an outside court and got to play a little basketball. These few days had given me only a glimpse of what was yet to come. On Monday, it was time to meet my classmates and finally start the French program!

Can't wait to let you know about my new discoveries next time! A Bientot!

With lots of Bruin Love,
Erica

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