No Metro? No Problem
By Julianna Reichenbach, Journalism Senior
After going to Chicago Factory, the Chicago Bulls-themed restaurant in Paris, my partner and I woke up from naps to our roommates talking about the subway strike.
We had planned to Uber over to Accor Arena before the big game. The group chat informed us this was a no-go. They’d been in standstill traffic for an hour.
There was only one way to get our interviews with Parisian basketball fans at a reasonable time — walking an hour and a half.
New challenges were constantly thrown at us: speed walking, starting conversations with people we don’t know or using Google Translate to conduct interviews with French speakers.
For the many steps we took (no pun intended), we didn’t panic. We worked together, encouraged each other and had so much fun while learning a ton.
When my partner Caleb Wiegandt and I went to the Bulls-themed restaurant, we found what reminded us most of America—french fries and Michael Jordan.
But we still had to conduct interviews with people who spoke French as a first language. In one instance, we typed our questions into Google Translate to communicate with a customer. Other times, we and our interviewee practiced patience. It sometimes took several tries to understand what the other was saying. But we are proud of our final story about Parisians’ love affair with Michael Jordan.
How much this admired the former Bulls player truly struck me, especially since “football” is the most popular sport in France.
After Olympic speed-walking to Accor Arena, I talked to more locals. Some were decked out in Bulls gear anticipating the game between the Detroit Pistons and the Bulls. While I’d heard the stereotype that French people were rude, I contrarily met so many accommodating, enthusiastic people.
One of my favorite parts of Paris was how you could sit down for a meal, and no one would come up to you with a check. You could talk for hours and know you were going along with cultural norms. This was so valuable for getting to know my study abroad classmates and professors, from our welcome dinner to our farewell cruise on the Seine.
Speaking of these people, I also think studying abroad with a group of students from my college was a valuable experience.
I learned so much about the different paths my classmates want to take, from being a players’ agent to a sports statistician to journalistic roles.
Hearing people talk passionately about the interesting projects they worked on during the program was so encouraging. I enjoyed talking to classmates I had never met before yet had much in common with.
Finding a group of 26 people so passionate about journalism and sports is rare.
I feel so blessed to have worked on this story and met so many amazing Parisians. I’ve expanded my understanding of culture. For example, I know it’s good to greet French people in French to show respect and cooperation.
I am a Gainesville native and this was my first time outside of North America. Getting to experience Paris and its elegance, along with its sports venues, made my rookie European experience so special.
I learned so much about navigating language barriers and plain navigating in general. While I’ve always been interested in covering the Olympics or another international competition, I now feel more inspired, and, perhaps more importantly, capable.
Further, hearing how our interviewee Lowell Watin became intrigued with the NBA taught me a lot. Watin fell in love with the sport because Kobe Bryant frequently went to the Philippines where Watin grew up. This highlights the importance of exposing people to sports, whether that’s the NBA on other continents or showing women’s sports in America.
People need a chance to experience something and fall in love.
Like I did… with the City of Love.