ACCENT Community College Scholarship: Croissants, Purple Rain, and Unconditional Kindness

Today, we check back in with ACCENT Community College Scholarship recipient Charley Hunter, who looks back on an amazing summer in Paris, full of great music, fantastic food, and wonderful learning experiences, both in and out of the classroom.

Looking back at my four weeks abroad in the City of Lights, I remember the candlelit Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (honestly one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed), Prince’s Purple Rain accompanying the tear-jerking fireworks on Bastille day, the World Cup victory that stirred celebration all through the following week (probably the most craziest experience I’ll ever go through), and the hour long metro to our 10 AM class that could occasionally be the sweatiest hour ever experienced by anyone. I will always remember the several alley cats I interacted with (maybe more than my classmates), the strong smell of lavender at Monet’s Château in Giverny, the hours of jazz on Rue des Lombardes I couldn’t get enough of, and the hundreds of steps taken to reach the summit of the Eiffel Tower.

Overall, I’ve learned what a huge impact studying abroad has had on me: having gained a great deal of independence being away from the comfort and familiarity of Santa Barbara, being able to live in and explore the beautiful city of Paris on my own. I did find similarities between Paris and my hometown in the unconditional kindness of the locals. In a couple of weeks, my morning walk to the nearest metro stop included several waves and a quick bonjour to local store owners and chefs walking to work. My roommates and I had our local boulangerie with the most delicious croissants, a bar just on the corner where we’d go to watch the World cup games, a local market where I’d buy cherries and peaches just about every single day (I think I’ll miss them the most).

Before embarking on this trip, I was worried that the stereotype of the French being rude and unkind, especially toward us obnoxious, loud Americans, was true; it is somewhat true, because we Americans can in fact be loud and careless at times. Even I wasn’t able to endure that kind of behavior without making a comment or a disapproving stare; but a little effort and a smile will get you far with the Parisians. I thank heavens for the Duolingo language app, because without that app, I don’t know how my experience in France would’ve gone.

In all honesty, I would still be the introverted art student, sitting in the back of the class, had I not taken this opportunity to study abroad. I have gained so much experience, so many memories and stories to share that have helped me grow and branch out among others like me. Living in Paris motivated me to put myself out there, interact, learn, and share stories with others, rather than sit in the corner and watch it all happen. These four weeks only make me want to travel abroad again and again. I know the trip can be costly, but I highly urge students to take advantage of study abroad and to do whatever you can to make it happen, whether it’s grants, scholarships, or three jobs; it will be so worth it in the end. Trust me.

Plus, the food is to die for over here. So think of that as well.~Charley Hunter, Santa Barbara City College

ACCENT is proud to support the Community College Scholarship as part of our commitment pledge to IIE Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to help more U.S. students gain international experience through study abroad programs.

Did this post inspire you to delve into the Parisian lifestyle? Open enrollment programs with ACCENT allow students of all educational and financial backgrounds to study abroad. Find a program that works best for you at: To learn more about the ACCENT Community College Scholarship, visit: