Now that the on-site portion of the UMass Lowell in Paris summer program has just come to an end, we thought we would share our reflections of these amazing days. The dynamic among the eight students on this trip was always positive and upbeat. We were very fortunate that everyone got along so well and that students were genuinely engaged in both the activities and culture with which they were presented. The bonding and camaraderie among the whole group that developed and persisted throughout the entire three weeks made our jobs as professors a true joy.
Our daily schedules were packed from morning until late in the evenings and included a formidable amount of walking (including during several days of rain). Nonetheless, each student openly embraced this unique opportunity to immerse themselves in French art, culture, language and society.
Our days and nights were filled with visits to numerous art museums and architectural sites, gastronomic adventures (such as cooking lessons, picnics and our daily restaurant excursions), film watching and trips to the Cinemathèque and BnF, as well as celebrating popular events à la française such as the 14th of July, the Bal des Pompiers and the cabaret du Moulin Rouge to cite just a few activities.
Living at the Fondation des Etats Unis in the Cité Universitaire Internationale de Paris afforded a unique opportunity for everyone to both immerse themselves in an international setting as well as to enjoy a vast green campus along with the exceptional municipal Parc Montsouris. Living here contributed greatly to the overall experience as was evident in student journals all of which mentioned local landmarks and now-familiar personalities of the neighborhood (a.k.a. “Crêpe Man”).
This full-immersion program has afforded our group the knowledge necessary to navigate the various neighborhoods in this leading European metropolis, and students now have a feel for the nuances in French culture, a more integrated understanding of French history, and on the linguistic level, everyone has added exponentially to their comprehension of French.
The 2014 UMass Lowell in Paris summer program has been an exceptional opportunity toward world-readiness. Just as in the past, learned individuals participated in the European “grand tour” to augment and complete their educations, our UMass Lowell students have embraced this experience and have had their lives and understanding of the world forever changed. We, as the professors leading this group, are delighted to have been able to share our knowledge and personal experiences of Paris, a city we both love and in which we both have lived and studied. We will always remember these days with each of you fondly.
Carole Salmon and Jennifer Cadero-Gillette