Archives for July 2015

Traveling, in Retrospect

By Rosamond Hoyle

I would be lying if I did not say I was scared for the majority of this trip. I was scared when I got on the plane in Kansas City, I was scared when I got separated from the group on the Paris Metro, I was scared when I arrived in Annecy and my host family swept me off to a party and vigorously interrogated me about my life in French. This fear led me again and again to question if I was doing the right thing. Why had I spent all this money to go on a trip that put me in positions in which I was uncomfortable, nervous, and home-sick? [Read more…]

The Adventures of a Foreign Land

By Hayley Carroll.

Hayley and Evan Carroll

Hayley and Evan Carroll in York

Planes, trains, buses, and taxis. Everywhere I look, there are people. The streets are constantly filled with cars and bikes and the sidewalks are filled with busy people navigating their way through the crowd. Horns honk and people yell and there is never a moment of silence. The hustle and bustle of the city never stops. I am not used to this; I come from a farm on the outskirts of a quiet little town in Missouri. This is a whole new world that I have nothing in common with. My main mode of transportation is the underground train. I have never even taken a train or subway at all, and I have never heard “mind the gap” so many times in my life. Everything is new to me in London. [Read more…]

A Life-Changing Three Weeks

By Katie Werth

IMG_0899Getting to be in Annecy for three weeks was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Being the student that knew the least amount of French in the group, I was very scared about living with a host family and not being able to communicate with them. I was very lucky and got fit with a wonderful family. They spoke English, but also taught me French. I was incredibly sad when I had to leave them.

The language course that I took was probably one of the hardest classes I’ve taken. It was a complete immersion class, so I learned how to speak French in French. It was a big struggle at first, but about one and a half weeks in I started getting the hang of it. IMG_0904The teachers were amazing and so were the other students. In one small classroom I got to meet people from all around the world. I think that getting to meet so many people from different countries was probably my favorite thing about this experience. It was really fascinating to hear about how differently things are done around the world and it gave me a new perspective on American life.

The city of Annecy itself is probably one of the most gorgeous cities on the planet. There are flowers and trees everywhere you go. The water in the lake is as clear as glass. You could see the bottom all the way in the center. One of my favorite things to do was get an ice cream and go for a walk around the lake. The mountain during sunset is one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. I really hope that one day I will be able to go back to Annecy and spend all of my time exploring the town!

The Construction of French Cultural Identity in the Pantheon

By Alexandra Womack

Pantheon 1On May 27, 2015, a somber procession made its way to the Pantheon of Paris. It was bringing the coffins of four members of the French Resistance, including two women, Germaine Tillion and Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz–whose coffins were symbolic, as they contained dirt from their gravesites—and two men, Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette. Although the whole world may not have been watching, it seemed that much of Paris was there in person. Our class was fortunate enough to also be in attendance, watching along with several thousand French men and women as history was made right before our eyes. Tillion and de Gaulle-Anthonioz, along with compatriots Zay and Brossolette, are not the only members of the Resistance now found in the cool darkness of the crypt—they join Jean Moulin, an administrator and a resistor during the German occupation of the country who died after his capture and torture by German officers. Originally laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Moulin’s remains were transferred to the Pantheon in 1964. The interment of Tillion, de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Zay, and Brossolette was a celebration of the spirit of the Pantheon 2Resistance. These four heroes present new faces that promote the ideals of the motto “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,” which dates from the French Revolution.

The presence of both Moulin and these four resistors gave all of us a unique chance to experience how cultural memory persists in France, and especially in places such as the Pantheon. The idea of these lieux de mémoire, or “places of memory,” is a foreign one to me; I can think of only a few places in the United States that act as a receptacle for our collective cultural memory in the same way as the Pantheon does for France. The French actively establish these “places of memory” and continue to maintain them through times of war and peace, abundance and strife. I was vividly reminded of this when I stepped into the building for the first time, three days after we had watched that stately procession. In Photo from Rosethe echoing space, it seemed that all aspects of French spirit shared space—Sainte Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, watched over us from great murals splashed across almost every wall; a marble statue that dominated the far wall of the building depicted intellectuals and soldiers alike seeking the attention of Marianne, who stood triumphant over the words Vivre Libre ou Mourir, “Live Free or Die.” The Pantheon of Paris lacks overzealous grandeur, despite its eclectic style; it is made beautiful not by its decorations but by the uniform message of cultural pride and remembrance that it presents. I was really moved by our visit to the Pantheon and it was an honor to be in the presence of the tombs of the people that France considers great enough to honor forever; of all the monuments and the places that we visited, the Pantheon was definitely one of the most moving.