Semester in Paris

I received the Gilman Scholarship towards my semester in Paris. For the scholarship I had to complete a project dealing with study abroad. I chose to create a video from footage and images I took while abroad. Here is the video that I made. 

I am a little behind, but here are some of the photos from my last few days in Paris. It was so sad to leave such an amazing city and the friends I made there. I have been home for two weeks and am attempting to go through the photos I took while abroad. It is so nice to have all of the photos as a reminder of the amazing experience I had. I am really luck I had the opportunity to study abroad and live in Paris for 5 months. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone and can not wait until I have the chance to go back! Thank you to all the people who helped make this possible, and to all of the amazing people I met while abroad!

I had some time off from school the past few weeks. It was really nice to have time to see Paris without having to work around my school schedule. These photos are from Giverny, where Monet lived. The gardens were amazing! The first area was covered with all different types of flowers. Behind that is the famous lilly garden and bridge. Unfortunately, the lilies were not in bloom. but it was still amazing to see the spots from many of Monet’s paintings. 

The city of Giverny is in the French countryside. I loved the surrounding city almost as much as his house! The streets were filled with small gated cottages with beautiful gardens. We were lucky enough to visit on a gorgeous day and had lunch outside at a cafe. 

I visited Berlin last week with two of my friends. I loved Berlin! It is a lot different from Paris so it was an interesting change. It is a very modern city with a diverse population of people. We toured the city and saw many of the impressive sights. We also toured an underground bunker from WWII. I am taking Post War in Paris and learning about the history of Paris during the wars. However, being in Germany it was interesting to learn how the German population lived during the war. Seeing the bunker made it seem very real. We also saw the Berlin Wall and the area with murals.

Our last day there we went to a flea market in the park. This was one of my favorite days. The hills next to the market were crowded with people relaxing and playing music. The market was full of homemade items as well as vintage things. After shopping we joined the crowds and sunbathed on the grass. 

We are finally having nicer weather in Paris and I have been spending a lot of time outside! Paris has really nice parks that everyone crowds to when the sun is out. The two that I have been to the most are Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg. Most of the grass in the parks is blocked off. In the few areas that you are allowed to sit in the grass, its funny to see people packed in close to one another in the area that has sun.   

For one of my classes I am writing a paper on Art Nouveau. For the paper I went all around Paris photographing the Art Nouveau architecture. After learning more and visiting so many buildings I have come to really like the style. Hector Guimard designed the Paris metro entrances as well as many other buildings in Paris. Nature, modernity, and symbolism are common motifs of the artwork. The artists used curvilinear lines and forms to create designs reminiscent of exotic sea life.

This weekend I visited Normandy with CIEE. On Saturday we visited many of the historical sites in Normandy. We began the day with the World War II Memorial, then visited two of the beaches and the Cemetery. I learned a lot about the war that I had not known before at the Memorial. At the end we watched a movie from the Invasion of Normandy. It was really powerful to actually see images from the war. We then visited the beach where it occurred. After watching the movie and learning about the history it was compelling to be on the beach where it happened. Next we visited the Cemetery. Hearing the number of deaths during the Invasion is very different then being at the memorial and seeing the number of graves.

The next day we visited la Ferme de Billy. They grow apples and make apple cider. We had the most amazing lunch here and tried the apple cider. We had a huge salad followed by chicken coconut curry, local Normandy cheeses, and an apple tart for desert. The restaurant was decorated in an adorable French country style.  

Some of the other places in Paris I have discovered are Bois de Boulogne, the canal, and Opera Garnier. Bois de Boulogne is a large park to the west of Paris in the style of an English garden. It is interesting to see the    organic, free form nature of and English garden compared to the geometric, structured French garden.  I was also interested in the colorful buildings along the canal. The Garnier Opera is amazing to see. Each room has is completely decorated with its own unique design.

It seems as though Spring is never going to be here! We did get lucky enough to have a slightly warmer day last week. I loved to see all of the stands along the Seine selling old books, posters, and other Paris related things. 

My study abroad experience is already more then half way over. I have been living in Paris for more then two months now and there is still so much more that I need to see! I have spent the past few weeks trying to fit as much in as I can. I love how the different areas of Paris can feel like entirely different cities. My friend Taryn and I discovered Bercy Village. It is a cute walkway with shops and boutiques that is lit up at night. In one of the classes I am taking we visit different areas in Paris. We went to Hotel Particulier last week. You enter through a courtyard. Vines and gardens dominate the area, making you feel like you are in a park rather than the middle of a city. 

I have also been trying to see as many exhibits as possible. One of my favorites was the Julio le Parc exhibit at Palais de Tokyo. He uses motion and light to allow the viewer to interact with the exhibit. It was unlike any exhibition I have seen before. I also visited the Catacombes when my mom and brother were here. 

The second place in Italy I visited with my family was Cinque Terre. It is a series of five cities in the mountains. We stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast in Levanto. We awoke Thursday morning ready to hike and explore the cities. Unfortunately it was raining, but we decided to make the best of it. It turned out to be an amazing experience, and I am so happy we had the opportunity to go. There was a train that stopped in each town. The first town was Monterosso. As soon as we walked out of the train station we came across the beach. Seeing the beach always makes me happy, even in the rain! We bought umbrellas and took off to explore the town. We spent the day exploring each town.

I had seen photos of the area and was really excited to see the colorful houses on the mountain. When we arrived in Manarola we exited the train and realized the rain had stopped. We found a trail in the mountain and began to hike. It was one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen. Because it had been raining the top of the mountain was fading into the fog. The colorful houses took up most of the mountain and you could see the ocean behind them.