BATON ROUGE – Less than two months after LSU gymnast Ericka Garcia finished her senior season with a trip to the Super Six, she was on a plane for a month-long stay in Paris, France.
Garcia, along with a few dozen other LSU students, took part in the “LSU in Paris” study abroad program this summer where she took two classes taught by LSU professors who also traveled with the group as part of the program.
“The entire trip was so much fun,” Garcia said. “It was an amazing opportunity and such a blast, and I am glad I was able to do it before I graduate.”
While she was able to visit famous cathedrals, and see the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, her favorite part of “LSU in Paris” was being able to meet and spend time with local Parisians.
“I didn’t do too many touristy things. We hung out with French students and visited places where real Parisians go. My absolute favorite was visiting Montmartre, an area with huge hills and a beautiful church, and we would take naps on the hills. It was so beautiful and relaxing,” she said.
While on the trip, Garcia became good friends with two other LSU students, Samantha Roberge and Aimee Lestage, and the trio decided to extend the trip after “LSU in Paris” came to an end in early July.
They spent 10 extra days in Europe and visited Mechelen, Belgium, Amsterdam and London.
“We spent three days in Belgium, three in Amsterdam and four in London, and it was such a fun experience,” Garcia said.
She did some sight-seeing, learned about other cultures and even tried some interesting food.
“I tried a sandwich that the locals in Amsterdam just called ‘the herring sandwich.’ It was just a raw herring that they cut the head off, scaled it and put it on a bun, and they put some sauce on it,” she said. “It was actually really good, and we had a couple of them while we were there even though we were apprehensive at first.”
While in Amsterdam, Garcia met up with an old friend – former LSU gymnast and teammate Susan Jackson. Jackson, who travels around Europe while working for Cirque du Soleil, was in Amsterdam on vacation for a few days while Garcia was there, and the two spent a full day together.
“We walked around, shopped, had dinner and really had a good time catching up and enjoying the city together,” Garcia said. “It was awesome how it worked out for us, and we had so much fun.”
Overall, the experience was not only fun but also successful as Garcia earned A’s in both classes she took during the program.
Now back in Baton Rouge, she finds herself dreaming of returning to one of the world’s most famous cities.
“I fell in love with Paris, and I would love to go back again,” she said.
If Garcia is to take a trip back to “The City of Light” it will have to be after she leaves LSU because she is on pace to earn her bachelor’s degree in International Studies (with a minor in French, of course) in December.
“I can’t believe my time at LSU is almost over,” Garcia said. “Four years have flown by. I am going to miss my teammates and coaches and all the friends I have made, but I have also enjoyed the entire experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world.”