Friday in Paris

By Katie Werth

IMG_0794Friday in Paris [May 29] was an incredibly fun day! We met one of Mme Langston’s friends, Drew Flanagan. He gave us a very interesting lecture on colonial expositions in Paris, which occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He took us to the Bois de Vincennes where some of these events happened and explained the process, which consisted of taking people from colonized areas, making an exhibit that looked like their “natural habitat,” and then putting them on display so visitors to the exposition could see how the people of those regions lived. We went to the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration, a museum located near the park that gives you a good idea of the kinds of people who immigrated to France. They had a really cool fashion display that showed couture fashion and its changes through the past century. After the museum we went to an area in the park where there was a lake. We were attacked by geese, or at least I was. After one came and stole my bread off of my leg, Drew grabbed someone’s backpack IMG_0801and heroically scared away the geese by swinging it at them. It was quite comedic. After lunch we went on a long walk through the Bois de Vincennes to get to the Jardin d’agronomie tropicale, which was designed for the 1907 Colonial Exposition. It was very cool to see the old structures and to think about how they were used. Drew explained how the people who were on display there would be dressed in very stereotypical clothing and then would perform an act such as basket weaving. It was a tiring day from the long walking and the heat, but it was also an amazing time.

Just Another Parisian Day on a Beautiful Monday!!

By Julie Glenn

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Julie at Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter were the first places the Miner crew visited. They are in an older section of town and if you look down the streets you can see how narrow they are, with the cobblestones still in place. This is a chance to truly get the feeling of what medieval Paris felt like because many of these types of neighborhoods were torn down to make room for wider boulevards, especially during the nineteenth century. The streets are very beautiful and are lined with many cafés serving a variety of food. Flowers can be seen hanging off of some balconies and there seem to be flower stores on every corner. The French have an appreciation for fresh flowers and a love for fresh pastries. Israeli, Japanese, Parisian, and Italian are just a few of the types of delicious cuisine that you can find in Paris, which illustrates how diverse the city is. The Latin Quarter in Paris got its name because of the nearby university (the Sorbonne)—in the past, the students who attended spoke Latin.

Notre Dame is a beautiful Catholic cathedral that has Gothic attributes. Many beautiful stained-glass windows and arches are apparent throughout the building. Unique architecture with buttresses allows for the cathedral to have very high walls. Many people might be familiar with this cathedral because of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Julie gives a presentation on the Luxembourg Gardens.

Julie gives a presentation on the Luxembourg Gardens.

Today, we also took a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, which were commissioned by Queen Marie de Medici in 1612. We had a magical experience of enjoying the well-manicured gardens, observing the site of the queen’s palace, and watching the local French children play with sailboats in the fountain. We strolled among a variety of statues, many of them of prominent women. There are 106 statues in total. Throughout Paris most of the statues are of prominent men that had an effect on Parisian history, thus it was a unique attribute of this particular garden to have so many women.

As the Missouri S & T Miners strolled along the romantic park we came upon the Orangerie du Sénat, a large building situated next to the Queen’s palace. We entered an inspiring photography exhibition produced by photographer Marie-Hélène Le Ny. It was called Infinités plurielles and included portraits of 145 diverse women scientists whose specialties include chemistry, history, astrophysics, philosophy, and biology, for example. These researchers or engineers are described in detail with the important work or research they have conducted. Le Ny’s goal is to inspire other women to reach for the stars and try to make a difference in this world, too. The France 2015 Miners Abroad group is a diverse group of women and we all connected with several of the stories the Le Ny’s portraits told.


Our group got to meet artist Marie-Hélène Le Ny.

As we were walking through the exhibit the artist of the exhibit came and chatted with us. We were able to practice a little French and connect deeply with a woman on the other side of the world. She may speak a different language than we do but the message and struggle is the same. It can be a tough world out there but it is important to hold your head up high and push through tough struggles to reach important milestones. Our troupe of Miner women took silly pictures with her and declared that we would carry on the message to be strong and become leaders in the world by pursuing our interests with passion. Here is a link for the artist where you can read more about her:


À tout à l’heure!

Exploring Paris on My Own

By Ashley Crannick

Inside Versailes

Inside Versailles

Americans like to think that they know France.  Before I came to France, I had an idea in my head that the French people were rude, smelled bad, had overwhelming accents, and ate mounds of cheese.  America had created these stereotypes through the infamous Pepe le Pew and bad accents in movies, but a lot of what I thought France would be like has already been proven wrong in my first week here.  Although some stereotypes that Americans have of the French can be applied in situations, there is a whole different world to France than what is portrayed in the States.

I decided to come to France early alone as a way to build my navigation skills and confidence in myself as a traveler.  Haunted by jet-lag, I got off the plane and began my journey in this enormous, beautiful city.  My first impression of France began as soon as I got onto the train to reach my hotel.  Looking out the window, I could see signs with French words such as boulangerie and épicerie on these intricate, elegant, tan buildings that held symmetry throughout the city.  The city seemed so fast-paced, with people running to get onto the train at the stops and holding conversations at a quiet, yet speedy pace, and cars zipping around the streets trying to make every green light that they could.  I thought of all the movies I’ve seen that portray France; none of them could capture the extraordinary feeling of being here.  IMG_0309I was so proud of my navigation skills until it came to finding my hotel.  I walked the street back and forth about twenty times with all of my luggage until I finally found my destination!  After taking what was going to be a brief nap that turned into a long, deep slumber, I walked to a nearby café and had an experience I will never forget.  While sitting with my bubbly water (I had thought that carbonated water was the only water offered in France because I had misunderstood the server, but I found out later that was not true!), I had an experience I’ll never forget. The people in the café were all chatting, when suddenly the bartender started humming a song.  Then suddenly, everyone started singing together and the entire café was filled with music.  I felt like I was in a movie with some sort of impromptu musical scene!  It was really cool to see the community get along so well and all come together over a song.  Even I started to sing along once I caught on to some of the chorus!

La Fontaine St. Michel

La Fontaine St. Michel

On Saturday, I went to Versailles, where I got to explore the old castle that French kings once lived in.  The palace was absolutely stunning, and a place that I’ll never forget.  The gardens were so enormous. I got lost multiple times; however, I did not mind getting lost at all, because every time I took a new turn, there was another beautiful sculpture, fountain, or work of art for me to become mesmerized by.  It’s hard to put into words the beauty and elegance that the Palace of Versailles holds.  It is just one of those places that people need to see for themselves.  I went to a restaurant for a well-deserved meal after walking around the gardens and palace for a good six hours.  The server there could tell I wasn’t from around the area, but she played along with my poor French, and she actually talked with me and taught me a few words that would be useful in a restaurant setting.  The people in France are extremely friendly!  I headed back towards my hotel and actually stopped by the same café to say bonjour to my new friends.

Ashley and Darci

Ashley and Darci, just before our group dinner

That Sunday, the rest of the study abroad group arrived in the city.  With my luck, when I tried to check out of my hotel, my credit card did not work, and I ended up running late to the group lunch because I had to call the bank and fix the issues.  However, I did make it in time for the check-in at the Generator hostel that we are staying in for the week.  I was really nervous coming to the hostel because other than my friend Julie from class, I had only met the other girls on the trip at the pre-departure meetings.  Thankfully, we have a wonderful group of girls, and I have had such a good time with them.  We left for dinner around 6:00 p.m. and went to a lovely restaurant in the Latin Quarter.  This was the first time that I had seen the Latin Quarter, and I was absolutely speechless looking at the Fontaine St Michel.  The sophistication of the details of the fountain and the elegance that it brought to the city was breathtaking.  Madame Langston gave us a history lesson about the fountain, and I that’s when I got really excited to learn more about the city.  I had seen landmarks like the Fontaine St Michel online before, but a picture does not do the real thing justice.  We walked a little by the Seine River, which provides another beautiful view of Paris, and continued as a group to dinner.  The restaurant was absolutely wonderful, with fresh flowers, a friendly staff, and terrific food.  I thought it was very interesting to be able to experience the differences between French dining and American dining.  The French eat dinner very leisurely with multiple courses in order to promote time for conversation and enjoyment.  I had such a good time bonding with my new friends that I’ve made on this trip!  I am so grateful for this opportunity to study abroad, and I cannot wait to see where this trip will take me.


Thursday in Paris: Markets, Memorials, and Memories

By Rachel K. Miller

Rachel1Exhausted from the prior events of the week (and from being squished into people from the ceremony at the Panthéon Wednesday), the day began too early. We marched on to the Bastille Market and Katie gave a thorough presentation on the history of the area. The market is filled with small street shops and vendors that sell everything from fresh produce to cooked meals to scarves to shoes. I also saw stands for kids’ toys and stands filled with beauty products, which was interesting. Like most of Paris, each stand was individualized and sold specific items.

After that, we went to Père Lachaise Cemetery, which is a gorgeous and famous cemetery. Rose gave her presentation on its history and gave a list of those she recognized that were buried there.Rachel2 This is the graveyard where you pay your dues after your death in order to remain there. I would imagine the family plots are bought out in advance, but there was a wall filled with holes and small boxes where it could be surmised that the urns were removed. While we were there, we saw the graves of Guillaume Apollinaire, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. There were also memorials for those involved in political turmoil. While many of the memorials were for WWII, I saw at least one from WWI and from other wars that France participated in.

BateauNext we went to the Shoah Memorial, which is a memorial for the Jews and others who suffered genocide during WWII and related events. There were many photos and artifacts from the time period and illustrated timelines with the events leading up to and ending WWII and to the creation of the museum. I was surprised to find out how many of the memorials in Paris were created after much time had passed since the events had occurred.

After a bit of free time, we went on a boat tour on the Seine. It was a lovely tour with views of the Eiffel Tower and other main sights of Paris. It was nice to be able to relax and view Paris without tracing it all out by foot. It was a nice finale for the day with beautiful weather. Perhaps a little cold on the boat, but nothing a good Parisian scarf couldn’t handle.


Wednesday in Paris

By Rosamond Hoyle

Warding off the jet lag, we started off our Wednesday morning at a little café Rose2next to our hostel, Café des Dames. As we finished up our coffee and croissants, we heard on the news that that evening, President Hollande would be speaking at a ceremony, adding four Resistance fighters’ remains into the Panthéon (a crypt for famous French citizens): Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Pierre Brossolette, Germaine Tillion and Jean Zay. (The women’s families did not want their bodies exhumed, so their coffins are symbolic and contain soil from their gravesites.) We were all super excited to be in Paris during such a historical event so we decided to Rose1change our plans for the day and go see the ceremony. As a group of girls, we were particularly interested because the Panthéon only has one other woman (Marie Curie) who was added because of her own merits and it was very special that two new women were being included.

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What a Month!

Walking through walls

Walking through walls

How has my experience abroad affected me? Well, first off, before this trip I had never travelled outside the United States, taken a train, eaten duck, or experienced another country’s memory of war. After the first day in Paris I had accomplished all these things, except the duck. That came later. It is hardly enough to say that this has been a life-changing experience, one that has sparked my interest in so many areas of life. Above all else this trip has reaffirmed my desire to travel and experience as many different cultures and societies as possible.

It's pretty tall

It’s pretty tall

I learned a great deal while abroad, and was able to see firsthand, examples of things I had learned about in previous classes. Seeing the product of the campaign to beautify Paris, known as Haussmannization, was more than awe inspiring. One of the most important things I learned is the difference between how we perceive war and how other societies, particularly the French, perceive war. For me war has always been a somewhat distant construct. Even though my family members have served in the military and been deployed during war, it was still happening far away. For Europeans, war has been close, in their back yard, at their door step. It is a much more real entity for them, one that leaves a very physical memory. It was an amazing experience visiting some of the war memorials such as the memorial at Mont Valerien, and the American memorial at Normandy. Entering the memorials was humbling to say the least. I could not help but to feel the weight of what those hallowed grounds represent, and the tragic memories they pay tribute to.


Great sight from the river tour

Great sight from the river tour

So, how has my experience abroad affected me? How has it not affected me is the real question. I have such a strong desire to return, and explore even more of Paris, and Europe altogether.

Memorial at Omaha

Memorial at Omaha

The trip opened my eyes to how much history lies in the stone facades of the buildings, the sprawling fields where battles were fought, and the amount of memories waiting to be uncovered yet.



Looking Back at Our Trip…

After visiting Paris I miss the city intensely, but I am also extremely glad I am back home. Paris has its highs and lows, as does every city, but the City of Light was a truly unique experience itself.

I was able to see the tourist attractions that children point out in books, like the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa, and I was able to experience rare monuments dedicated to the tragedies and sacrifices of WWI and WWII.

It is hard to believe that I stood on the same beaches that thousands of soldiers marched on to liberate France while we enjoyed a tour of the area and ate at a local restaurant as if nothing happened. The eerie peacefulness of the area and the horrific photographs that you know were taken at the same spot where young children now swim and build sand castles is eye-opening.

At the same time, you realize how small you are during such an experience. It is amazing that in an 8-hour plane ride you can travel half a globe and experience a completely different culture.

My favorite place that I visited was the Louvre, and the second was the Pantheon, where I saw the final resting place of Rousseau and Voltaire. They wrote some of my favorite books, and I didn’t even realize I would see them! As for the Louvre, the amount of tourists was overwhelming. At the Mona Lisa, there was at least 100 people crowded in front of the work trying to get as close as possible. I was able to fight through the crowd, and I saw the masterpiece for the second time of my life. It was worth the crowd.

Mona Lisa You would never believe how much I had to fight to get this picture!!

Overall, the experience was amazing. I am extremely glad that I had the opportunity to learn about WWI, WWII, and French culture at the very heart of Paris and Caen! The most important thing I learned, besides that my knowledge on WWI and WWII was very rusty, would be that the City of Light is nothing like you read in the picture books. The city is even more beautiful than any picture you can buy, the people are not as arrogant as we think they are (but they are a little bit at times) and the monuments they create are timeless, peaceful, beautiful, and breathtaking.

My opinions of French culture never really changed, but I learned that they are very nice. I only had two people be rude to me, and I was lectured once on how could I visit Paris without learning French! I did get the occasional “sniff” when I asked if they spoke English, but after seeing how many tourists they get, I can understand their frustrations.

I miss Paris, but by the time I left I was sick of French food (shhhh, don’t let them know). I hope our blog gave you an idea of what it was like, and hopefully it will encourage others to visit!


Reflection on France: Study Abroad Experience

After arriving back in the U.S. this past Saturday, I’ve come to realize a huge gap in both social and historical culture between America and France. The experience has really impacted my views in a nearly indescribable way. It was almost an experience of going to another planet instead of just another country – a revelation of how diverse the world is in operation though everyone is effectively living similar lives. Not just now, but in contexts of the past – such as during the world wars – we share the same values of freedom and preservation of human life, paying the ultimate price to gain these basic rights. Every day spent in France, the overwhelming feelings of camaraderie in the face of adversity surfaced. Every location the students of Missouri S&T visited only served to peel the lid back on emotional barriers for us, with several students breaking out into tears – myself included – when taking in the gravity of standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy where thousands died on D-Day.

The American Cemetery

The American Cemetery

Taking a class at the university could never prepare someone for the things they might experience and feel when standing at the historical monuments in person. Yes, America has quite a few historical monuments that bring about similar feelings, but for France, World Wars I and II took place on their soil while we were an ocean away. Today’s American citizens could never compare such experiences of having their home country invaded and occupied, but for France the past still remains in the everyday of the citizens’ lives. Social order was heavily changed once France was occupied during World War II, with the weight of events still dictating how people act in social situations today by trying to have the utmost respect for another person despite differences so as not to repeat the mistakes made by others in the past.

Sky View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Sky view from the top of the Eiffel Tower

In total, the experience of studying abroad has really changed my thoughts on several issues here in the U.S., and though it is a bit hard to explain the feelings one might gain through studying abroad, I insist everyone take the leap of experiencing another culture at least once in their lives. The world, as it turns out, is much bigger and brighter than one could ever imagine, and the past memories that mold our world can turn every thought around the minute you learn how oddly similar yet different we are.

Making globes during World War 2 - Caen Memorial Museum

Making globes during World War II – Caen Memorial Museum

Au revoir, Paris!

Upon my return to the States I felt happy to be back, but also a part of me missed Paris. Looking back on the trip I remembered many things that were different that I had to readjust to. The hustle and bustle that comes with being in a city took a little bit to get used to compared to being in a small town for most of the year. Many of my opinions of Paris changed during the study abroad trip. The first thing that surprised me about the city was the size of it. When people think of Paris many people think of the monuments there such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame. What I came to realize is that most of the famous monuments are very close to each other. You can even see monuments when you’re at other monuments. Besides the monuments, there are a lot more things in Paris than people realize, like the Luxembourg Gardens and river boat tours.
The most important thing that I learned from my trip from Paris is the amount of history still embedded in the city its self. It was amazing to see all of the buildings from World War I and II still in commercial use today. The buildings were used for everything from furniture factories to holding places for Jews. This trip has personally affected me in a positive way. I love traveling abroad and learning about new cultures and this trip has made me more curious than ever. I loved my adventures in Paris and it was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Three Weeks in France and a Day in London

The end of the trip is quickly approaching and I have had so many good experiences during this trip, which included a day trip to London. My first day wasn’t a complete disaster, but it felt like it at the time. I got into Charles de Gaulle Airport, got through customs and found my luggage without a problem. Getting from the airport to the apartment we were staying at was a different story. I got to Gare du Nord, which is a fifteen-minute walk from where we were staying but when I finally found my way out of the train station I was in a deserted street, so I decided to try to get to Gare de l’Est, which is closer to the apartments. The metro isn’t hard to navigate once you figure it out, but starting from scratch by myself made it a little difficult. I eventually got to the apartments after getting lost two more times and getting some help from a few nice Parisians. This experience taught me that the street signs in Paris are on the buildings, not on posts on the corners of intersections, like they are in the United States, which is confusing. After less than a week in Paris I felt comfortable getting around and confident that I wasn’t going to get too lost, but even after two weeks I still get lost when trying to find specific places. The winding, small streets continue to confuse me.

Tower of London, originally built by William the Conqueror.

Tower of London, originally built by William the Conqueror.

London in a day was a great experience. I got into London around 8:30am and started the day in King’s Cross Station, a necessary pilgrimage site for any Harry Potter fan. I then went to Westminster and got a great view of the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Next I went to the National Gallery and saw a few works by Vincent Van Gogh.The museum was free but if you wanted a map you were required to make a one pound donation. At the British Museum, my next stop, the map cost two pounds. I saw the early and Roman Britain exhibits there.

Big Ben in Westminster

Big Ben in Westminster

From there I got a chicken and vegetable pasty (a chicken and vegetable filled savory pastry) for lunch on Oxford Street. After lunch I went to the South Bank to see Southwark Cathedral, which has a memorial to Shakespeare and is not far from his Globe Theater which has been rebuilt not far from the original location on the South Bank. I then went to see the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge and took a ton of pictures. On the way home I decided to stop for English tea and a scone with golden raisins, which was delicious. The weirdest part of being in London was keeping to the left. Throughout the Underground (London subway) tunnels there were signs reminding people to keep left, which is the opposite side of the hallway from what I’m used to walking on.

London Eye in Westminster.

London Eye in Westminster.

Omaha Beach, one of the American D-Day landing beaches

Omaha Beach, one of the American D-Day landing beaches

Caen is a town in lower Normandy that was liberated by the British during the invasion of Normandy in the summer of 1944. It is also the home of the chateau of William the Conqueror. I took a ton of photos from the wall of the beautiful view of the city. While staying in Caen we visited the D-Day Beaches and the American Cemetery. It’s hard to picture all of the German defenses and the soldiers on the beaches because of how beautiful and peaceful the beaches are now. The American Cemetery was situated on a beautiful and peaceful location overlooking a section of the beach. While we were exploring the cemetery the sun finally came out and it got warm and it was so beautiful. I have enjoyed my trips to France and London and I look forward to coming back again.