The French Presidency

During my stay in France, I witnessed the most recent presidential election. The new president of France is Emmanuel Macron, he assumed office on May 14th of this year.

Before I talk about the current president, I will talk about the valeurs or values of France. France is a country that believes in:
-democracy (liberty and equality for all)
-indivisibility ( same laws on all territories)
-secularity (religious liberty for all religions)
-social welfare (social protection and aid for all)

While in France, I noticed the French believe strongly in these values and demonstrate their belief in these values often. While in Paris I saw many protests take place ( I did not partake in these protests), and as the election dates came closer and closer the protests became bigger and bigger and happened more and more often. They are democratic people and fight for their right for liberty and equality.

Emmanuel Macron is apart of the mouvement “en marche”  and is a centralist, he neither swings to the right or the left. During the elections, his propositions were (these are just 3 among many others):
– create universal unemployment insurance
– Diminish the amount of imports businesses make
– Improve the overall situation for women

Image result for emmanuel macron

His major opponent was Marine Le Pen. She was an ultra-conservative and a member of the extreme right. She was the head of the Front National party. During the election, 3 of her (many) propositions were to:
– Make a referendum to have France leave the EU
– Limit the immigration rates in France
– Reduce the legal age of retirement from 62 to 60 years old.

Image result for marine le pen

While it is typically not police to ask someone about their own political views, it was very interesting to see people protesting throughout the elections.

Les symboles de la Republique Francaise

Les symboles de la République française translates to the symbols of France. During a course I took this semester, we spent some time talking about the true symbols of France. No, their symbols do not include the Eiffel Tower, or the Louvre museum. The symbols of France are:

1. The flag
2. Marianne
3. The national motto
4. La Marseillaise- The French national anthem

The Flag
– The flag comes from the French Revolution. The blue and red represent the colors of France and the white represents the monarchy.

Image result

– She is a symbol of the people. She is a symbol of the republic, one of liberty and reason. She can be found on official papers, on stamps, and on French euro coins.

Image result for marianne

The National Motto
– The national motto of France is liberty, equality, and fraternity. The motto comes from the declaration of the rights of man.  It is found on the front of all official buildings.

Image result for the french motto

La Marseillaise
– The national anthem comes from a war chant created by French soldiers of Marseille to defend the revolution. The anthem was composed by Rouget de Lisle on April 25, 1792. Like the American national anthem, it is played at all major events and holidays.

Image result for the marseillaise

It’s important to know the symbols of a country because they are the visual representations a country uses to represent their people, values, and history. They can also make you think about what symbols you use to represent yourself as an individual, what message you are projecting to the world.

Beyond France

While abroad I had the opportunity to see more of the beautiful places Europe has to offer, during my first vacation I visited (in addition to Paris, of course) London, England and Venice, Italy.

London very much reminded me of home (Boston, MA), which only makes sense considering the city was founded by the English. London had a very beautiful, classic feel. The streets were wide and old, the people were warm and friendly, the  monuments and buildings were well-preserved and beautiful.

After visiting London, our next stop was Venice. Venice was unbelievably beautiful, a gorgeous old-world city. We were lucky enough to have had our stay in Venice be during Carnivale. Carniavle is an ancient Venetian tradition celebrated for 40 days during the Lenten season.


Venice was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, it is easy to see how its beauty inspired many famous works, for example Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Othello. 

Beyond the Beauty

Living in France has been one of the most amazing experiences I ever could have dreamed of. The land is gorgeous, the food is delicious, the culture is lively, I’ve seen so much and made so many memories here that could last for eight lifetimes. Before I came to France, “honeymoon phase” was a phrase I heard very often from my study abroad peers and advisors. The same meaning that applies to the honeymoon phase in relationships applies to living abroad as well, meaning, after some time the initial glitz and glamour or that “new car smell” starts to fade away and reality sinks in. Living here for five months has given me a lot of time to think about this.

Upon arrival, everywhere I turned seemed to be more beautiful than the last.


Come on.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the sometimes overwhelming feeling of “new”, and it’s okay to, in my opinion, you should. It’s like that feeling when you begin a new relationship and you’re ready to say “I love you” after 2 weeks together, it isn’t true love but it sure feels like it. The important part about this stage is you’re allowing yourself to fall in love, you don’t have any inhibitions, you just let things happen. Living somewhere new should be the same thing, let yourself fall in love with the scenery, the people, the food, the culture, take it all in.

Once the “shiny, new feeling” wears away, you start to see everything as it truly is. You start to appreciate the small things that the city has to offer, those are the things that become truly beautiful to you. For me, in Lyon, it’s the small boulangerie that’s on the corner down the street from me that bakes my favorite bread in all of France, or the way the fencing seems to (unintentionally) match the vines,…

… or the way a completely raw photo can still take your breath away.

Once you discover what’s underneath the face value, and understand how near and dear that is and how closely you hold that to your heart, that’s when you know it’s love.

This idea tends to have a negative connotation, but sometimes the smell that comes after the new car smell can be a very beautiful thing, it starts to smell like home.


When I first came to France I thought my time here would never run out, it’s crazy to think that not too long from now I’ll be back in the US living through this unbelievable experience only in my memory.

Something that I really feel strongly about is investing in something that is going to remind you of the amazing memories you’ve made on this journey. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but it should be something that’s personal to you. Before coming here my dad gave me a personalized journal for Christmas and all he asked was that I fill it full of memories. I decided to buy postcards and little mementos from each location I go to and paste it in the journal.

Another awesome idea I heard is from fellow correspondent Meaghan Gallagher, she is going to make her own jean jacket and cover it in patches from every city she visits and sew it on the jacket. It’s her own unique jacket and no one will ever have the same exact one, it’s her own cool souvenir.

(Photo: thecityslickerblog)

Whether you want to buy a cookbook from everywhere you go or fill a bottle with dirt, it’s up to you, but it’s so important to do something. You will never regret it.

Day to Day

Taking on the title of “Global Ambassador” while abroad has been an awesome experience, I get to document my study abroad experiences and share them with all of you. While a large part of study abroad is traveling, hence the “abroad” piece, you can’t forget about the “study” piece of it as well (unfortunately).

In Lyon, I am enrolled at L’université Lumière-Lyon-II where I have been studying french (sounds quite posh, no?).
 (Photo: Ellen Wallinger)

Here I have been studying intensive (seriously) french and getting a true sense of the French university system. There are some major differences between french public universities and american public universities, for example: in the US, you technically only take on average 5 classes that meet 2x per week, which results in about 10 periods of class time per week. In France, you take on average 10 classes, but those classes only meet 1x per week so it comes out to about the same amount of meeting times. Another major difference is the length of the class time, classes in USA are on average 60 minutes long, in France, they are on average about 105 minutes long. It seems long but classes tend to go by quite fast, professors here really utilize that time the best way they can. Classes are very interactive and require a lot of input from students, I enjoy them very much and they do not feel like they are 105 minutes long.

This university is a popular one for study abroad students across the globe, I have met many other international students here. I have class and have made friends with students from Colombia, Vietnam, Albania, South Korea, Zimbabwe, etc.

The awesome thing about this university is there is a true sense of community here, I have met some of the friendliest people at school and have made real lasting connections.

Even though the studying part isn’t always the best, USAC’s program in Lyon has really made it such an enjoyable experience. UL2 is a beautiful school in the heart of Lyon, the students and staff are all super friendly, the classes are interesting and you learn so much french. Getting up and going to school everyday has become a part of my day I truly enjoy.

Paris #1

“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn 

“An artist has no home in Europe, except in Paris” – Friedrich Nietzsche

No matter who you are or where you come from in this life, I’ve always felt like Paris is a place where all can come and feel a new (for some reborn) sense of excitement and wonder, and I was right.

My trip to Paris began with a 5 hour bus ride beginning at midnight, followed by a few changes on the Metro, and this was my first view of Paris after stepping off the metro at 6:20 am…

. (The Eiffel Tower, 6:20am)


…I was taken aback by the enormity and beauty of this monument. I had seen photos of the tower thousands of times, but not one could ever come close to giving you even the slightest idea of what it’s like to have this magnificent structure right in front of your eyes. While the Eiffel Tower is not a symbol of France, it is one of Paris, and is one that represents prosperity and achievement and inspiration.

Notre Dame of Paris 

Seeing Notre Dame for the first time is a pretty surreal experience. This church (monument) is hundreds of years old, inspired countless stories, and has played such a large role in the history of man and is still in operation today. The place which inspired Victor Hugo to write one of our most beloved tales, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the place where King Henry VI was crowned king of France in 1431, and where Napoleon I had his coronation in 1804 is open everyday for visitation and regular masses and church services are still held there.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre museum is an unbelievable place, filled with thousands of years of art and culture and history all under one palace. Coming to the Louvre is a must, visiting is as close as we are going to get to having the ability to travel through time. Whether you are fascinated by Egyptian artifacts, Renaissance paintings, or ancient Greek statues, like Nike the Goddess of Victory, who is in the above picture, there is something for everyone. The Louvre is HUGE, you really need to dedicate a whole day to visiting the palace or to make multiple trips. These photos are from my first time there where we only did a quick run through of a couple exhibits, I will be returning this weekend to discover what else this amazing museum has to offer.

My first time in Paris, though brief, was spectacular. Paris truly is an amazing place full of history and culture. Like I said before, I will be returning this weekend to unearth what other wonders may lie in Paris.

à bientôt



Studying abroad is not only a great opportunity to study in another country, but during your time abroad, there are also many opportunities to explore different countries. These opportunities should of course be taken advantage of, but, it is also important to explore the city you’re studying in. I’ve heard from friends, family, and other students, who have studied abroad, that they wish they spent more time exploring the city they were living in. Generally, in their cases, it wasn’t until the end of their journeys that they realized (or re-realized) how special their host cities are, and wished they only realized it sooner. It’s important to remember there is a reason you chose to study in the city that you are in, explore it and enjoy it!

Here is what I have discovered in Lyon thus far…

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

The Basilica was constructed in honor of the Virgin Mary, whom the Lyonnais people regard as their savior from the bubonic plague during the 17th century.

 (interior of the Basilica)

(Interior, sample of bright color scheme)(Front entrance of Basilica)


Lyon Cathedral

The Cathedral was built in honor of Saint John the Baptiste, it took about 3 centuries to build (construction began in the 12th century and finished in the second half of the 15th century)
The famous Lyon Astronomical Clock from the 14th century can be found here!

 (View from Saône River)


The Saône River 

The Saône is a major river which runs through eastern France, it is a branch of the well-known European river, the Rhône.

^^(Bridge connecting Place Bellecour to Vieux Lyon on the Saône River)

^^(View of Vieux Lyon from Bellecour across the Saône River)


Cemetery of Loyasse

The cemetery is known for its vast array of gravestones and architectural styles. A few examples of the styles of graves can be seen in the photos below.

…It is absolutely beautiful. It has only been about 3 weeks and have barely scratched the surface of what this magnificent city has to offer.

(Note: These are all original pictures)

Patience and Perseverance

Perseverance is something constantly on our minds, whether you’re trying to make it through your work-day or finish strong at that 5:00AM bootcamp class you signed up for, we are always working our way through something. Patience, however, is not something we actively think about everyday, but it is something we practice everyday. While it is important to persevere and practice being patient with yourself and others everyday, it is just as important to think about the two words. To think about their meaning, their purpose, and what we as emotional beings gain from persevering and being patient.

What does it mean to persevere? In my opinion, it means to be a trooper in a course of action, to keep moving forward, even when it may be difficult to do so. In order to successfully persevere, you must be patient. What does it mean to be patient? I think patience is similar to perseverance, in the sense that you are working through something, but to be patient, means to do so gracefully. Of course no one is perfect, and we all complain from time to time, I am just as guilty as anyone else, but when achieving something it is important to work hard, not become frustrated and give up or take the easy way out, and to not get ahead of ourselves and make brash decisions.

Though I only arrived in Lyon a mere week ago, my study abroad journey has been going on for quite some time. My journey to Lyon began last January, and while it has been an incredible experience thus far and having learned more than I ever could have imagined, it has not been without its difficulties. Any goal you aim to achieve comes with hardships and dilemmas, whether it be, in the case of studying abroad, creating a class schedule that satisfies all your needs for receiving a diploma and won’t delay graduation, or putting in 70 hours a week over the summer to financially secure yourself, they are bound to come up. That being said, the difficulties are what make the experience so much more rewarding.

Patience and perseverance together are what make us successful, they are what help us overcome obstacles and break through barriers put in front of us, no matter the obstacle. They are what give us the ability to achieve our dreams, and one day, you will look back on your life with such pride, you will think to yourself “I did it, I was patient and persevered, I made it happen”. They may be merely words, but when you put them into action amazing things can happen, like being able to call this beautiful place home for the next 5 months.





Bonne Journee 


Follow this Spring 2017’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent, Kathryn Stewart, on her studies in Lyon! Kathryn is a UMass Lowell Business Administration major studying this spring on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, USAC France: French Language and European Studies in Lyon.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon.

Kathryn Stewart poses with a secenic view of a mountain behind her.Kathryn Stewart poses with friends for a group photo.