Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Mullikin

Stories that Shaped Us: Short but Sweet: Paris during the Pandemic

Rachel Mullikin is an ISA Paris alumna who currently works as a team member with WorldStrides. Her experience abroad during Spring 2020 brought life changing moments to her life and led her to where she is today.

We reached out to learn more about why she chose to go abroad with ISA France and to explore what impact that decision had on her future. Check out this unique story below.

What was a memory from your time abroad that you still think about often?

One memory I will always cherish is after we got notice that our program was cancelled, and we had to return home in the next few days. The French President had announced that businesses were to close that night, so we all took it as our last hoorah in Paris! A bunch of us from the program gathered in the grass at the Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower. We all brought different desserts and various wines/champagnes to toast a shortened but unforgettable trip that we’ll always remember. We danced around, laughed, and took photos to capture the moment.

Hanging out at the Tracadero, taking in the last day we were all together

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned while in Paris?

Watch out for your belongings! Pickpocketing happened to a lot of students that were in our program. I had traveled to Europe prior to my program, so I was very aware of my surroundings already and always kept my valuables in front of me. I also learned about the cultural differences between Americans and the French. Americans can be very loud and obnoxious; I would start to notice when a local would roll their eyes at us being loud on the metro. It was obvious at times that we were American. Another lesson I learned was that I had to get comfortable with doing things by myself. I had plenty of friends in my program and at school, but if someone wasn’t available to do an activity I really wanted to do, I realized I should still do it even if I was by myself. Otherwise, I’d miss out and possibly regret not doing as much as I could’ve done.

How was your experience abroad a steppingstone in your path towards where you are now?

I met some of my best friends abroad, which is how I ended up in the position I’m in now. After we returned home, I planned a trip to Austin to visit one of the friends I had met in Paris. Wanting to move out of my hometown in New Jersey, I found Austin had everything I was looking for in a city. Only a couple months after visiting, I made the move! I was living in Austin for around 8 months before I noticed ISA’s office was located here. I went on their website and found the Financial Affairs Coordinator position and applied! It’s been over a year now that I’ve been in this position, and it truly feels like my life came full circle.

Trip to Normandy beach and American Cemetery

What were some of the best foods you ate?

So many foods to name! Duck was probably my favorite because I didn’t think I’d like it, but it was so delicious! I was in Paris, so of course I would run to the boulangerie and get the most delectable, mouthwatering croissants!

Did you do any additional travel while living in Paris? What was it like?

Trip to Bavaria, Germany with friends

Luckily, before the pandemic went into full swing, I was able to take a few trips. One of them was an ISA excursion to Normandy/Mont Saint Michel, which was historical to see where D-Day happened as well as remember all the lives lost during that time. Another trip I took was to Champagne, France to experience where champagne comes from. We took a tour at a winery, where they explained how it’s made, and we bought some bottles to bring back with us. The last trip I was able to take was to Munich, Germany. This was a very fun-filled trip! We went to the oldest beer garden in Munich and spent a full day there mingling with locals and other tourists. We also took the train out to Bavaria to tour the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The view here was breathtaking. Some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen to date.

What did your daily routine look like throughout your semester?

During the week, I had to get up around 5:30 in the morning to get ready for school and take the metro there. It was about a 40 to 45-minute journey to school by metro. I had to take 3 different train lines to make it. I didn’t mind the somewhat long journey because I love public transportation in Europe! After classes were done, I’d usually go out to eat with my friends and have wine and charcuterie boards while we chatted. Then, I’d return to my apartment to get any homework I needed to complete done and finally cook dinner while hanging out with my roommates and talking about what we were going to do that weekend or what travel plans we had approaching.

One of our last days in Paris at the Luxembourg Garden

Curious to hear more from ISA/TEAN alumni? Read more blogs from France Alumni or explore more of what WorldStrides has to offer through the WorldStrides Blog.

Inspired by Rachel’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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