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September 11, 2019

By Kendall Jablonowski ’21

PARIS, France — We are in week three of Asbury University’s Paris Semester and I’m learning the importance of community both at home and abroad.

French is such a beautiful yet complicated language. Learning the pronunciations proves to be both challenging and fun, and I am thankful for all of my fellow students and their support throughout the learning process. When I am struggling with French homework, there is always someone who is willing to help and encourage me along the way. One thing I have learned throughout this trip is you can’t go through life alone.

On a comforting Monday night, we went over to Dr. Linda Stratford’s apartment to celebrate her birthday. We all gathered around her living room with cakes from the local market. I am far from home, yet this community is making me realize I am not alone in this process.

Romans 12:5 says, “So in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all others.” This reminds me of the body of Christ which is formed through the community. As a community in a foreign country, we are all in this together. Even though we may have different majors, ideas and backgrounds, we all have one thing in common: we want to be here to learn more about French culture and are open to studying new ideas in history, design and art.

After the surprise birthday party, students Javian, Shelby and I decided to visit the famous cafe Les Deux Magots. We’d just learned about the cafe in Dr. Stratford’s French History class. This is where historical and surrealist writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ernest Hemingway gathered. These writers developed their passions, discussed some of their ideas or just sat down for a cup of coffee at this exact cafe. Legend has it if you sit where Sartre sat you will have good luck and good conversation.

Sartre was an artist and writer who inspired surrealism in photography, art and writing. He is the mastermind behind the artistic movement. His ideas brought up elements of illusions in abstract art and poems. When we walked up to the bright and shiny cafe, I noticed bookshelves filled with poems and journals. Each of these books consisted of poems and ideas from Sartre.

When we sat down at the elegant, glossy table with little cafe chairs, I realized my love for Paris grew even deeper. Like de Beauvoir, Sartre and Hemingway, we were three friends exploring the city on a magical night under the Parisian skyline. Javian requested the seat where Sartre sat, and we talked for five hours about French philosophy while sharing funny stories and some good laughs. What a night to remember!

After leaving Les Deux Magots, the three of us realized we were just young writers and artists pursuing our dreams. We are so blessed to be able to do so together in community in this great city under Asbury’s Paris Semester. I can’t wait to see what other amazing nights and community-building opportunities like this one Paris Semester brings us this fall!