Past Participants

Patricia Drake

Patricia Drake in France   

“I was 18 when I left for France with the working holiday category of the International Youth Programs (IYP). I had no job, no place to stay, and so I looked for assistance through the SWAP program, a partner of the IYP. I was terrified of leaving everything I knew behind, and yet I knew it would be the best experience of my life. I could never have imagined how true that would be. I first found a job working for an ice cream shop right down on one of the main streets of Paris, Rue de Rivoli, then as a hostess for a crepe restaurant in the Quartier Latin.

 After a month of hostel living, I moved into an apartment with another Canadian girl and our apartment quickly became the place where everyone (friends from France, Canada, Germany and Australia) gathered almost nightly. We experience the vibrant nightlife and explored the beautiful city with these new friends, often just wandering through the streets, barely able to realize we were actually in Paris!

It was like a dream, I woke up every morning in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and would walk for hours exploring on my days off from work. There was always so much to see and I didn't want to miss anything by taking to metro!

When I first arrived I struggled to hold conversations in French. It was a huge blow to my ego because I had always thought my French was so good. There's nothing more frustrating you than being reduced to using a vague form of sign language while trying to get someone to understand that you need a new fuse for the electricity in you're apartment, something you don't even entirely understand yourself. But by the end of my trip Paris felt like home.

I loved every random adventure, every crazy "is this really happening" moment. It honestly changed my life, making me a different, stronger and more courageous person. If given the opportunity, I would go back in a second!”

-Patricia Drake


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