Original content on this web page was created by students enrolled in the journalism study abroad course "Travel Reporting: Paris Off the Beaten Path" in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University. Students immersed themselves in Parisian culture for two weeks while also creating original content for multiple platforms including social media, print, audio, broadcast, photo, and online. We hope you enjoy this video and all the original content.
Inspired by Atlas Obscura, MTSU journalism students told stories about not only the iconic sites in Paris but also the places and people that adventurous travelers find only when they take the road less traveled. This group of talented and engaged students went off the beaten path in and around Paris at a time when the world began to reopen to travel following COVID-19 travel restrictions. If you travel to Paris, we hope we inspire you to discover this beautiful city in a most unique way.
Off the Beaten Path continues. Join us as we engage the world. Here's to the next adventure! - Dr. Christine Eschenfelder
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
Paris From our Perspective: A Photo Travel Journal
Photo by Roni Portzen
The Louvre isn't exactly "Off the Beaten Path but when in Paris, it's a must see.
Photo edited by TJ Myers
Reflection by Zoe Naylor
Before studying abroad this summer, I had been to France one time. I knew generally what to expect culturally — busy city streets; stoic French faces; quick, quiet speaking — but I did not know what the city would be like through the journalistic lens.
Throughout our time abroad, Dr. Christine and Dan Eschenfelder were careful to point out and encourage story ideas. One of my fondest memories from the trip was Dan's saying, "There's a story there!" at least twice a day. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was infectious. I was always happy to help translate orders to wait staff or questions to interview subjects when needed because not only did I get to use my French abilities, I also had two open-minded, encouraging professors guiding me. When we walked into a restaurant or shop to conduct an interview, Dan taught us to be assertive in order to get the video and audio
material we needed, but appreciative and respectful of a subject's timing and language needs. Dr. E. taught us how to lean into the French culture while we were in Paris, how to appreciate the French "mode de vivre," and how to navigate cultural differences as a guest in a foreign country (especially when we felt uncertain or encountered translating issues).
The biggest thing I learned while abroad is that I should not be afraid to ask questions and converse with native French speakers. It may seem silly that it took a journalism student flying halfway across the globe to realize this, but sometimes studying abroad means feeling a little silly. I learned to ask questions not only for our stories, but also to be involved and fully present in a moment. Asking questions meant I had strangers help translate some interviews, I got to know the life stories of a waiter and an artist, and I bought a perfume I really liked from a very helpful shopkeeper! Sometimes, it is the little things that make an experience memorable.
All in all, I learned a lot this summer. Have confidence in yourself, trust your group, appreciate what your environment has to offer, respect those around you. It shouldn't take flying to another country to know these lessons in life, but I'm sure glad I got to.
Not that Notre Dame, this is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims, France. This masterpiece of Gothic art dates from the 13th century. The cathedral was the site of 25 coronations of French kings. Adorned with more than 2,300 statues, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991.
Reflection by Kristi Jones
What an amazing two weeks. Looking back at this trip...I realize how even more special it was. The people were fantastic, the food was fantastic, the culture was phenomenal, everything was perfect. I am thankful for the opportunity to not only travel, but for the people I traveled with and what will come out of this project.
This trip also showed me the importance of travel and rest. The trip, while academically worthwhile, was the most fun I have had in a while. Experiencing new sights, foods and people in general was something I had been waiting on. I can't wait to travel out of the country again academically or just for leisure.
One of my favorite parts of this trip was probably filming on camera components. It gave me a sense of calm. I knew, for the most part, what I was doing and I had a great co-anchor to work with. I think we had a good balance and worked well together on camera. Seeing what Middle Tennessee News has created in the past, I have no doubts that this special will be a knock out.
This trip was more than I could have expected. I cannot put into words what each day meant to me and how I truly think it changed how I view the world and the way I will tell stories.
The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur is located at the summit of the hill of Montmartre, on the right bank of the Seine. Here we found not only the beautiful Romano-Byzantine basilica but also thousands of "locks of love." We joined the visitors on the steps of Sacré Cœur to take in the breathtaking view of Paris from Montmartre.
Reflection by Cameron Eschenfelder
This trip was the farthest I have traveled outside the United States and I left with fantastic memories that will last a life time. I have studied French since I was in grade school; I joined clubs, attended summer camps, and even studied French in high school for a few years as well. Getting the opportunity to use the language I have studied while earning college credit was perfect for me. Reading anything from traffic signs to restaurant menus or even just listening to native speakers has broadened my horizons when thinking about the world as a whole.
Not only was I enjoying the French culture, but I was able to document the process. Travel journalism allowed me to look beyond tourist areas and focus on lesser-known areas of Paris and France. Our team traveled past Charles de Gaulle and the Arc de Triomphe; we went further than the Champs-Élysées and the 8th arrondissement. Our 7-man team stumbled across quaint shops and local pubs, as well as beautiful restaurants and tiny convenient stores.
One of the biggest things we noticed was that everyone and everything had a story to tell. The native Parisians insist they can’t speak English but can vividly describe the impacts of the second World War on their family businesses. The dimly lit streets and spray-painted walls shined memories of loved ones and the memories they left behind. There might be a language barrier in France, but the city speaks for itself. I will never forget about the happy old man painting charcoal portraits over the Seine or the lady who collects maps in her studio apartment because her dad was also a collector.
Our travel journalism class was able to capture all these moments and stories and put them together in a neat documentary. To sum up, I have learned so much about people, culture, and storytelling. I will take the skills learned from this course and the memories of the people I met and continue my education. I can’t wait for my next trip with MTSU, Engage, and the study abroad team.
We also got the chance to tour the G.H. Mumm's champagne cellar in Reims, France.
The cellars are home to all of Mumm’s champagnes and are protected from light and heat in a labyrinth of underground tunnels.
The tour offers an opportunity to learn about vineyard operations, bottling, the art of blending and aging, and of course a tasting at the end of the tour.
Reflection by Roni Portzen
For this study abroad course...I did something that I always used to refuse to do for most of my classes: I was on camera. For every Journalism course, I was always given the option of being on camera and I always denied it and chose a different option. This time I chose to be out of my comfort zone and decided to be on camera to help my package be better and flow more with how our story went. I also got behind the camera and shot b-roll.
Being on camera is something that I don't like because I always get really nervous and start stumbling on my words...I am a writer and a producer, that’s what I am good at. Give me any story and I can write it. The moment I had to handle the camera it was a struggle. This study abroad opportunity gave me the option of working both behind and in front of the camera. The study abroad trip also allowed me to explore a different culture than my own and I learned so much.
On a cool and rainy day in Giverny, we toured the magnificent gardens of painter Claude Monet. Here visitors will find Monet's home and colorful gardens as well as the famous pond and water lilies that inspired so much of Monet's work. Walk across the Japanese bridge and take in the beauty all around you. We also suggest you get a scoop of lavender ice cream before you leave breathtaking Giverny!
Reflection by Collin Heath
Participating in this specific study abroad program was not something I expected to do, but I'm glad I did. I tried to plan a study abroad trip for over two years, but the programs I had the most interest in were cancelled due to the location's status with the pandemic or after realizing the location wouldn't be ideal for my goals and what I could offer to make it work. Surprisingly, none of the programs I was interested in were in France. This particular program seemed like my last chance to study abroad before graduating in time, so I was determined to make this happen for me, and I'm grateful I did.
My favorite part of the trip was sightseeing and learning about the city's history through our time spent at museums, cathedrals, guided tours, and even just from walking the streets....I never thought about all the historic art and sculptures I would get to see or how old the city actually is, and I am glad I never took any of that for granted and enjoyed as much of it as I could. And I have always been drawn to museums and historic art simply because of my love of artwork and anything creativity-related.
Observing how people in France live and what their moral codes and routines are like in comparison to the United States was something I hoped to learn a lot about, which I feel that I truly did. I really admire their lifestyle of being dressed nicely in casual settings because I have noticed in my own life how easily tired I get when I dress primarily for comfort and laziness, and maybe dressing decent in everyday life can help people like myself feel more motivated and energized. I was also intrigued by people's manners and etiquette. People in France seem to have a more quiet tone when speaking and good table manners at restaurants. I never expected prices for restaurant meals, groceries, and necessities to be lower than American prices, especially because we were in a major city, and I have always found prices to higher in larger cities in the states. I learned that traveling to new places causes people to reflect on their own lifestyles and habits and make changes if they realize they do something they are proud of.
Brainstorming ideas for stories was an interesting part of the class. I learned the importance of knowing about current events in the location I'm traveling to...I am glad I had the chance to use the social media of Middle Tennessee News to keep daily track of our journeys and promote the show to our audience back in Tennessee. Looking back at the posts I created, I have seen improvement with how I create content compared to my past experiences. I am also excited to get to write press releases to be pitched as well since that falls right into my major and career interests.
I think being able to actively work on projects for a shorter time period with events planned out compared to regularly attending lectures on a schedule offers a unique take on studying abroad. I am also proud of myself in fully taking in the beauty of the small treasures and things I was most excited about, like the museums and historic architecture. This was my first time outside of the states, so I wanted this to be a meaningful experience in terms of academics and my own perception of the world, and I'm very confident that I got that.