Postcard #11 from Paris: Things I’ve Learned During Paris Semester
November 6, 2019
PARIS, France — I can’t believe we’re already in Week 11 of Asbury University’s Paris Semester! This semester has provided a wealth of opportunities for learning, both in and out of the classroom, and as we’re nearing the end, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what it’s taught me.
Here are two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my time in France’s capital city:
Lesson #1: Remain Present
During a semester abroad, it can be easy to get distracted by things like registering for future classes, planning out schedules or even just wondering what things will be like when we go back home.
Recently, I have really been trying to focus on living in the present! For me, this includes things like going to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower with friends. Whatever it is you want to explore, do it. Now is the time. Studying abroad has helped me to realize the importance of self-awareness. Find intentional time to go to a park and take a breath, pray or even just walk and be content with where you are.
At times it has been challenging to live in the moment and not check on social media to see what everyone else is up to. Being on Paris Semester has taught me to use my time at home and abroad to get to know myself and the world around me. Paris has truly given me direction, inspiration and a sense of motivation to live in the now. A place I find peaceful in Paris is my favorite coffee shop Coutume Institut; it is a great environment to study, read, work on group projects or do daily devotions.
Going there, I feel as though I am able to remain focused without any distractions around me. I am learning it is OK to slow down and enjoy the little moments I have left in Paris (it goes by fast). Even though final projects and homework can seem stressful, it’s essential to find a coffee shop, park or a chapel to just be still.
I encourage future Paris Semester students and others studying abroad this semester to find that one place in Paris you can go to for rest, adventure or inspiration. For me that one place has been the Coutume coffee shop. I am learning how to create the time and space to just be still. This is a practice I hope to bring home with me in a few weeks.
Lesson #2: Adventure Is Good for The Soul
I’ve also learned that adventure is good for the soul and, exploring the city on my own has been a huge inspiration for me as a creative.
On a rainy Friday afternoon after art class, I decided to venture off on my own to see the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. I was feeling a need for adventure, and I wanted to go somewhere I had not been before.
Once I got to the museum, I was able to view Yves Saint Laurent’s original sketches, collection and office space. Most of his work is inspired by his use of old patterns, the shapes around his office and the space he designs his clothes in. I was able to get in and out of the museum in one hour and take the metro back to campus.
As I was taking the metro back to campus, these questions crossed my mind: Can the space we use to create something inspire our work? Is it important to establish a studio or a space to create in? What role does space fulfill?
It is in these museums and parks, that I’m fully able to reflect on these bigger questions about life and art and faith and creation.
While visiting the museum, I was able to visualize his exhibits, office and past collections. All of his work was part of the big shift of abstract fashion during the 1960s. His idea of fashion was extremely different from everyone else’s, yet he found the space to design an elegant, yet unique collection.
Visiting the museum really benefitted me because I was able to see the importance of abstractionism in art and fashion. I’ve really learned to visit new museums when I can because there is plenty to see!
Currently, this adventure is helping me come up with new projects, ideas and inspiration for my classes. I find going to a museum on your own to be a very beneficial and uplifting experience!
As we enter into the final few weeks of Asbury’s Paris Semester, I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow.