Joanne DiGuido​​​​​​​ ’86 at the Château de Versailles

French was one of three of my majors while I attended Rosary College (1982-1986).  Undergrad French study included courses in language, art, literature, history, and culture.  I enrolled in the study abroad program in France for one semester.  At that time, (and be reminded there wasn’t any internet, websites, social media, or immediate connection to family and friends), it felt a world away. In my young twenty-year-old mind, I rationalized to instead stay home and canceled my program.  It was a missed-opportunity that I regretted throughout my life.

Earlier this year, we saw the devastating fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris broadcasted on worldwide news.  As I watched this tragic event unfold, I felt urged to go to Paris, France.  I took myself for my 55th birthday, and better yet, I shared my November trip with my twenty-six-year-old son.

I developed my own itinerary and thought about my undergrad studies at Rosary College.  I dug out the paper that I wrote while at Rosary College, about the construction of Palais du Versailles (written with a typewriter of course).  My priorities were to see the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (even if we now couldn’t go inside), Château de Versailles, La Tour Eiffel, L’Arc de Triomphe, Musée du Louvre and Cathédrale de Saint-Denis. I selected a hotel near the Sorbonne University, and stayed in an area that I might have “hung out” at that time, near Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the 5th and 6th arrondissements.  I looked at the course descriptions from my old 1982 Rosary College registration bulletin, and I spent time online refreshing myself with the history that I learned.

We visited the priority sites I had on my list of must-sees, plus many other Cathédrals, museums, and exhibits.  The sights, sounds, cobblestone streets, cafes, the Seine, and of course the exceptional food, cheese, and wine can only begin to describe the Paris life that I dreamt.  There were so many reminders of things I studied at Rosary College.  We walked endlessly, rescued a few times by Uber, and immersed ourselves in Paris.  Never a tour group nor guide, it was all on our own.  Plus, a couple of days to just hang in Paris without anything scheduled to see what we might discover.  I spoke some broken French (a shock to my son at times) and I thanked Google Translate a bit, but I was able to communicate, somewhat pronounce, read, and interpret – certainly an amateur at best, but my broken French helped.

I returned feeling compelled to contact the alumnae/i office and share my trip.  I want to implore students to seize any opportunity now, study abroad, and immerse yourself in a new culture.  Don’t worry about work, missing family or friends, or graduating on time.  Jobs and responsibilities will always be there and will become bigger.  Don’t listen to people who might say, “why would you want to do that?” Rid any negativity.  No one can ever take away your education.  Listen only to yourself and your dream.  New opportunities and adventures will happen for you with this experience.  It will all be fine.  Learn.  Just go.

One week in Paris definitely was not enough time.  My dream trip came true for me, and my sharing it with my son made it so much better.  Our next trip to France is being planned; next stops will include Strasbourg, Normandy, the Loire Valley, and definitely going back to Paris.  J’adore Paris.

Joanne DiGuido
Rosary College, Class 1986