Students Take on Paris and
Leave with New Perspectives
Windsor, N.J. - When Allanna Hicks, who earned her associate
degree in Liberal Arts at Mercer in December, heard about
the college's Study Tour to Paris scheduled for July, she
remembers thinking, "I'm in." Now, having just returned
from the trip, which took place July 10-17, she is thrilled
she decided to go. "I so enjoyed it. I really appreciated
the exposure to the culture. I learned a lot in school, but
studying a culture firsthand with faculty and a guide makes
a huge difference."
Hicks had never been abroad before and now she can't wait
to go back. That sentiment was echoed by others on the trip.
The eight students were accompanied by MCCC science faculty
members Diane Hilker and Linda Gaylo. Their very full itinerary
included Notre Dame Cathedral, the Pasteur Museum, Versailles,
the Napoleon Museum, the Louvre, a Seine River cruise, and
a view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tour, complete
with a champagne toast.
On trips into the countryside, students observed the cheese-making
process and made their own goat cheese -"an acquired
taste," observed Plant Science major Nicole Bailey with
a wrinkle of her nose.
The group also visited two wineries - one that dates to the
11th century and a second that dates to the 14th century.
They were even there for Bastille Day - fireworks included.
Students note that the details of the trip were meticulously
attended to by Casterbridge Tours and their guide, Alan. "We
left the hotel by 8:30 every morning and Alan would hand us
our metro passes," Hicks recalled. "We also did
a lot of walking, which is a great way to see the sights."
the Pasteur Institute, from left, MCCC students Nicole Bailey
and De'Ana Leonard (partial view), faculty member Linda Gaylo,
students Diana Bridgeforth, Allana Hicks,Dorothy Edwards,
Annette Bacon, Linda Cruzeta and faculty member Diane Hilker.
Not pictured: Harriet Jones.
Annette Bacon wishes to dispel a major stereotype about the French
and their attitude towards Americans. "If they saw that you
were trying to speak French, they were friendly and very helpful,"
she said. Annette, who traveled with her mother, Harriet Jones,
admits to taking at least 1,000 photos. "I just could not believe
the architecture of the place," she said, especially Versailles.
She was also impressed with the impressionist art. Her mother vividly
recalls the street performers, particularly a singer in the metro
station who insisted on serenading her with Whitney Houston's "I
Will Always Love You." "He was a real flirt," she
recalls with a wide grin.
French food clearly lived up to its reputation. Some students tried
- and liked - escargot, while everyone enjoyed starting their day
with fresh croissants. Favorite desserts included crepes, mousse
and crème brulee. Wine proved cheaper than coffee. There
was lots of pate on the menu, as well as steak. But, observed Professor
Hilker, portion sizes were much smaller than in the United States.
Even Bailey, a vegetarian, found plenty on the French menu that
suited her, including quiches, omelettes, a variety of salads, and
the bread, of course. Bailey was especially thrilled to visit the
Pasteur Museum, having written a paper about the world famous scientist
prior to going on the trip. "I wrote the paper, and then I
got to see the actual lab," she said. Bailey presented her
paper to her fellow travelers following the museum tour. She also
recalled the trips into the French countryside with wonder. "The
scenery was so beautiful."
noted that it helped to travel with such a congenial group. "We
got along great. We became really good friends."
Both professors agree that traveling to another country is a unique
bonding and learning experience. Said Hilker, "The study abroad
trip provided the students with a wonderful opportunity to experience
Parisian culture and to learn more about how the field of microbiology
is interwoven into our everyday life."
Adds Gaylo, "Our experiences exceeded everyone's expectations.
The educational opportunity at the Institut Pasteur was a thrill
even for those travelers who have never studied microbiology. Our
overall appreciation of French history and culture was definitely
enhanced by this trip."
The Study Tours program is coordinated by Business faculty member
Andrea Lynch. Plans for future tours will be announced soon. For
more information about study abroad options at Mercer, click here.
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