I spent my last week in Paris enjoying the surprisingly warm weather (not at all normal for February) and I was able to go check out some of my favorite spots over again! Since it was the last week, it was also time for my finals for the first block. For my 20thCentury French History class, I had to write a paper discussing any relevant topic that had been covered in class. I chose to focus on Anti-Semitism in Vichy France, specifically focusing on the “Jewish Files” which provided both the French government and the Nazis with information to further persecute the French Jewish population. For my other class, Paris Collage, I had to present on any architecture piece or period of time that we had studied through our many site visits. My group decided to focus on the Belle Époque, one of the more prevalent art eras in France and throughout Europe, which impacted much of the architecture that I would see strolling through the streets of Paris.
Both classes provided me with insight that I had never really been able to receive studying in the United States, which I felt was very important. For example, I never had known the extent of the Vichy government’s persecution of French Jews until I learned about the Jewish files, mass round-ups, and horrific deportations. The last week was a busy time, as I was struggling to balance schoolwork while also hoping to enjoy my last days in Paris. It definitely is difficult to find a schedule to study while abroad, but I find that it is best to plan the days out ahead of time.
By doing so, you will still be able to enjoy exploring and spending time with your friends, while knowing exactly when you should focus on work as well. For me, it was also crucial to realize that the city of Paris was an extension of my classroom, which allowed me to benefit from what I had learned in my studies. Whether I was visiting the Shoah Memorial, a museum dedicated to the Holocaust in France, or simply wandering around to see the famous landmarks and focus on their architecture, I was able to internalize what I had learned in the past weeks.
The city of Paris provided me with insight into more than just what I had learned about in class. I was able to learn more about the French culture, something I had always been interested in. I realized how interested I was in art and architecture for the first time, and had even began to enjoy fashion more. My time in Paris was amazing, and I cannot wait to return when I’m older! I will definitely miss all the pastries and crepes, but its time for me to move on to my next city: Rome!