The View From Paris

A Columbia-Sciences Po undergrad sits out the pandemic in Paris—and can't wait to arrive in New York.

Ian William Christensen
November 18, 2020

This is part of a Columbia News series, titled Postcards, which invites members of the Columbia community who are living and teaching or studying abroad, to send us updates on where they are, what they miss about not being on campus, and how they are making the most of their situation during this global pandemic.

[This piece was written right before France went into a second lockdown.]

I just finished my two years in France of the Dual BA Program with Sciences Po, and amid all the craziness going on this year, I decided to stay in Paris while I begin my first year at Columbia. I’m not going to lie: It wasn’t the ideal way to start at my dream school from my laptop screen, but if there’s anywhere to ride out the pandemic, it’s Paris!

Ian William Christensen: A masked young man wearing dark clothes rides a scooter on a Paris street.

Tourist crowds are gone, the air is sweet, the streets are serene, and all the museums and sights sit ready to be explored completely alone. Things aren’t easy—an empty city means hurting businesses, and we are under a 9 pm curfew every evening. I miss being able to go out into crowded bars, traveling, and meeting new people, but it’s sobering and encouraging to see that most Parisians are determined to help one another and do whatever we must to end the pandemic.

I can’t wait to step onto Columbia’s Morningside campus for the first time next year, experience the bustle of New York, and meet face-to-face the wonderful students and professors I see every night (yes, thanks to the time difference, my classes go from 8 pm to midnight). Au revoir!

Ian William Christensen is a student in the dual BA degree program between Columbia and Sciences Po.