History in Paris class takes trip abroad

For many students, spring break means cocktails and suntans in Panama City. For others it is a week spent either catching up on or getting ahead on homework. And for some, it’s a relaxing week of pajamas and video games. For nine Ambrose students and one lucky professor, spring break was eight days of famous museums, beautiful sights, and a taste of some of the best food in the world. This was spring break in Paris, France.
St. Ambrose professor Sandy McKinley took an excited bunch of students abroad for his class, history in Paris. Three of the students were history majors, while the rest of us may as well have majored in fashion and shoes in Paris. Nonetheless, we all got the best of both worlds. Senior Meghan Baley is an exercise science major who feels, academically, she got a lot out of the trip.
“I learned so much,” Baley said. “I’ve always liked history, but I just don’t happen to be a history major. I feel like I know more now when France is referenced in my other classes.”
For history student Kate Golden, who has been on many trips overseas with Ambrose, the museums and sights confirmed everything she had been learning about in her education.
“This is the best trip I’ve been on,” Golden said while in Paris. “It is so cool to see all of these things and have someone with you who can tell you everything that has happened there.” While roaming the streets in Paris, it is hard not to learn something with the walking history encyclopedia, also known as Sandy McKinley, at your side.
Aside from visiting the famous Eiffel Tower and climbing over 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame, McKinley also took us to several museums and on walking tours of historical parts of the city. Our trip included visits to the Cluny Museum, the Pantheon, the Carnavalet, Pere Lachaise, the Louvre, the Invalides, the Grevin, and the Musee d’Orsay. Our class also toured fascinating districts of Paris such as the Latin Quarter, Le Marais and Montmartre. In middle of the week we took an excursion to Versailles, the symbol of the French Monarchy where Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI had all lived.
The only struggle we all were faced with on the trip was the language barrier. By the end of the week many of us could tell what the hotel manager was saying when she asked us what room number we were staying in. A select few could even give her an answer in French, usually after a few tries. It was incredibly difficult to specialize a food order with a waiter, although whatever did come out on our plates was always delicious. A tip to the future classes: take the time to learn some French!
The nine of us students spent our spring break a little differently. It might not have been at a beach in Florida, but we did enjoy a few cocktails for St. Patty’s day…and for every other day we were in France. We relaxed for tea time and chocolate cake at the Musee d’Orsay. We ate crepes in front of the lit up and sparkling Eiffel Tower. We met interesting people from other countries.
Although our legs experienced more walking than we may have done our whole lives and our bellies are stuffed with croissants, I think we all agree with Baley when she says, “It was hands down the coolest experience I’ve ever had and worth every penny.”


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