So this semester I decided to leave SMU to study abroad in Paris for the next four months to gain a better understanding of art history and to become more fluent with my French. It’s weird not to be around campus with the familiar buildings and to have Tex-Mex food weekly, but so far I am just loving Paris!
I live with a great host family in a lovely quiet residential neighborhood close to some great sites, such as the Trocadero and the Arc de Triomphe. I also get to view the Eiffel Tower every morning when I take the metro to class; the sight of the beautiful tower never loses its grandeur for me.
I am studying with one other SMU student who is also an art history major, amongst many other students from different universities around the country. IES Business and International Affairs is a great program because not only is it a business school, it also offers French, art history and political science classes.
I am enrolled in a very enthralling class about the 2012 presidential elections here in France. It is amazing to read the newspaper (in French, none the less!) about the different candidates and parties all competing against one another to become France’s new president.
The art history class I am taking is about 19th-century French art. As a class, we visit museums weekly to learn about the Impressionists and where they gained inspiration. It is so surreal to take a class in the Louvre in front of the actual painting instead of taking notes in a classroom from an image on a projection screen. I would have to say the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, L’Orangerie and the Georges Pompidou museums are musts for visitors in Paris.
These museums obviously hold some of the greatest artworks (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Olympia, Nympheas, Picassos, etc.) in the world, but one should also visit there because next to these museums are amazing creperies (unfortunately these are tourist traps and can be pricey, but they’re so worth it). Today I visited the Georges Pompidou and had by far the best crepe in all of Paris. It was great because it gave me enough energy and fuel to walk through the massive modern art museum.
The street life is another thing unto itself. The street fashion is incroyable and has that je ne sais quoi about it. It is like a fashion show every day here, even in 30 degree weather. I love taking the metro just to see what coats, accessories, handbags and boots people will be wearing. It’s as if I never left SMU and the Boulevard.
One last thing before I go, IES offers great day trips outside of Paris, and our first trip was to the very glamorous Versailles. The other students and I enjoyed the gorgeous gardens (by Andre Le Notre), the grands appartements, and were given an exclusive tour of the petit appartements where the Royals actually lived. Versailles itself requires a Herculean feat to maintain; with just a little under 2,000 acres of gardens and forest, it’s truly incredible to think that and the chateau have to be well kept because more than 2 million people visit each year!
I can’t wait to start traveling to other countries; it’s wonderful going abroad because here in Europe every country is so close that most are accessible by train – it truly feels like everything is within a fingertip’s reach. Perhaps Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain or Austria for next week? Stay tuned to find out! Pony up!