Passport To Paris With Erica Tukiainen

July 13, 2009

Erica's Paris Photos

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 This is her second installment from Paris.


Last time, I had just arrived to Paris and got a chance to do some sight seeing. However, it was simply an introduction to this beautiful city! Now that my French classes have started, I have also begun to explore the various areas or the 'arrondissements' of Paris to further understand the culture of Parisians. What's even more awesome is that not only am I learning on my own as I travel (and get lost) around the city, but the classes give us an opportunity to discuss what we have learned...there's lots of food for thought about the French. Now, it's time share with you as well. Bon appetite!

La Classe de français

While it may sound a bit bizarre (and perhaps a little nerdy as well), I'm truly enjoying summer school! My French classes are fun and exciting because we learn the language (both written and oral) in addition to the history and culture of Paris by going out and relating our outside experiences to what was discussed in class. Our professor has also brought in various French students as assistants to encourage us to ask questions and to learn about our similarities and differences. For instance, one of last week's topics was dating. Our class was curious to hear how the 'rendez-vous' in France differ from our concepts of 'dates.' Hence, we simply bombarded the French students with one question after another: In France, how do the guys ask the girls to go on a date? Is there such thing as the girl asking the guy out? Where are the hot rendez-vous spots? Who pays for dinner? Our French guests simply looked at us amazed with their 'Oh là là!' blushing faces. Despite initially being a bit overwhelmed by our interest for romance, even they had a fun time discussing and sharing some of their personal experiences to give us advice. What can I say, Paris is the city of 'amour' and we obviously all just wanted to be well informed and prepared in case of having the chance to go on our own rendez-vous.

While most of the classes take place inside, we also have fun class trips to museums and monuments with various activities to expand on what we have learned in class. Last Wednesday, we went to one of Europe's most famous, biggest, and oldest (not to mention very crowded) museums, the Louvre (you might recognize this museum from the movie, Da Vinci Code). We spent a marvelous 2 hours with a tour guide (the cool part was that we wore headphones to hear our guide on her microphone) learning about the sculptures and paintings of well-known artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and many more. Before coming to this museum, I had only read about their works of art and seen them on TV (especially movies). Now, I was only few feet away from some of the most treasured artworks in the world, like Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. It was an unbelievable experience.

In addition to our weekday trip to Louvre, we also had a weekend excursion to a small fishing town of Honfleur in Normandie. Ever since the beginning of the trip, my self-guided tour book had served as my Bible for Paris. When I could not find Honfleur anywhere in the appendix, I figured that this small village would not be the most fascinating spot. On the contrary, Honfleur blew me away! The town had a delightfully unique atmosphere. Among the markets, restaurants and cafes, I was stunned by the precious homes that looked like little doll houses. Not only that, but we were greeted with warmhearted 'bonjours' in every little boutique that we entered. Of course, we couldn't leave without having some of the best French cuisine ever, cinnamon crêpes (very thin pancakes) with apple ice cream!

This past week was fabulously fun, so don't forget to also check out my pictures (you have my permission to laugh)! In addition to our trips to Louvre and Honfleur, I have captured some fun moments around Paris. Time to get back to homework and exploring la vie parisienne!

Au revoir!


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