Americans in Paris


Pablo E. Ortiz

Students from the Department of Communication spent spring break 2016 in Europe. The experience gave students the opportunity to attend sessions at the American University of Paris. Sessions were moderated and presentations given by leading professionals in the communication realm from across the globe. During the time in Europe, students also were able to visit with CNN Senior European Coorespondant Jim Bitterman. Bitterman is always happy to speak with students about the challenge of working for a worldwide news network. Students were also on the ground in Paris to see the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the colors of the Belgium flag in response to terror attacks in Brussels. 

*Each author listed wrote a brief piece describing their recent trip to Europe. The pieces below are in order as listed in the byline above.*


Getting back to Europe in 2016 was a goal, since visiting in 2015. I loved Paris in my visit last year and was eager to return.

This year, I was fortunate to be able to not only return to Paris, but take my first train-ride to London.

London was a cool city to visit. Having authentic fish and chips in a pub, while watching a soccer game was a great experience.

When we got back to Paris, we were greeted by the ever-popular Eiffel Tower. However, in the following mornings, terrorists attacked the Brussels airport.

As Paris did during the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a concert venue, the Eiffel Tower was illuminated the colors of the Belgium flag; of course before it was the colors of the French Flag.

Last year, a group of us met with Jim Bitterman from CNN. In 2015 when we met, Bitterman was working on breaking news of a plane crash in southern France.

This year, Bitterman was working on live coverage of the attacks in Brussels.

One thing Bitterman said that really has stuck with me is, “We would rather be second or third with the news and get it right.” 

That’s a powerful statement from a worldwide 24 hour news network.

But, if I had to pick, the visit to Normandy was my favorite. 

Sadly, many of today’s youth do not know or cannot recall what happened here.

Standing on Omaha Beach and visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial are memories not soon to be forgotten.

Visiting the place where over 150,000 allied troops landed, and another where 9,387 troops are laid to rest really brought home the whole thing.

One upside of being an airline employee was getting to fly first-class to Europe and back. The downside was having to fly to Madrid, Spain to get back home.

But, the lie-flat seats made up for any inconvenience; including the man who died on our plane in Madrid.


Recently two students and I went to Paris, France to attend the International Media Seminars. This was my first time traveling abroad and it was a bit of a culture shock. We spent the first day walking around and taking in all the beautiful architectural aspects that Paris has to offer (which is basically everything); I also had my first meal that day and it was simply amazing and the coffee was really impressive as well. I think I drank more coffee over there than I have ever drink and for good reason, it was so good.

One of my favorite things that I did over there was the adventure to Normandy. A group of us took part in the tour where we went to the five different battlefield locations of the invasion. We saw some of the reinforced bunkers that the Germans had built to protect them, allowing them to shoot from a distance while under cover. We also went to Pointe du Hoc which was untouched since the Rangers took it over. That was really amazing and insane to think about. The ground was littered with huge craters exceeding 10 feet deep, blown up blocks of concrete welcomed you to the scene; a story told by the guide that outlined the dramatic nature of the fighting that had taken place. 

We met some really great people while we were in Paris, and talking to some of the Parisians was enlightening. You hear a lot of people saying that Parisians are mean and stuck up but it never came across that way. 

They are argumentative but that is a part of their culture if they have an opinion on something then they are going to state it. I found that awesome and useful if approached with an open mind. It can show you a different or new viewpoint that you never even thought about.

I can honestly say that participating in the International Media Seminar Study Abroad trip was one of the best decisions I have ever made.




ver spring break, MSSU gave me the opportunity to both fly and travel outside of the states by allowing me to go to Paris, France. This was not only an amazing experience but one that I will never forget. 

While in France, the group that I went with and I got to see the Eiffel Tower, visit Normandy, see the Arc de Triumphe, talk to and meet with many people to learn about the culture and lifestyle of France, among many other experiences. 

I was able to eat food that I typically wouldn’t eat, and had to try to understand a language I have never learned before. I had never rode a metro, or train before and I got to do all of that in France. I accomplished a lot of “firsts” in my trip and it was definitely a big learning experience—and an eye-opening one—at that. 

I think the best way to learn and immerse yourself in a culture is to just throw yourself right into it. I was very shell shocked and tired the first day we got there, but after a few days I felt very comfortable, like I could adjust fairly easily. 

Travelling abroad made me realize there is so much more going on in the world we live in, and how life is being lived differently in so many places across the globe. Dinner in France is treated as an experience, and can last up to 3 hours. It isn’t rushed like it is here in the U.S. 

I think everyone should take advantage of traveling abroad if they have the chance because it’s important to learn about cultures that are not your own. It will help you grow more as a person than anything else will. I feel we often get too comfortable and set in our ways in a small town, and travelling abroad—or anywhere, for that matter—helps you to understand all the differences in our world. 

Overall, I had one of the best experiences I’ll ever have travelling abroad to France, and it has made me want to travel to other countries to learn more about everything that’s happening in our world.