Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Au Revoir, Paris!

Monday, July 7: This week really brought about the message of Arcadia's study abroad. Describing to different people the Arcadia Promise made me realize how lucky I was to have attended Arcadia and to have been chosen for this opportunity.

While biking through Paris and going to Mass at Notre Dame were highlights of the trip I will never forget, my favorite thing about this trip was the people. We were Arcadia. There were no titles; no formalities. We were not students or faculty or staff members; we were Arcadia coming together to bring to life the meaning of our Study Abroad program. Being able to joke with Terry and Jerry Greiner; inviting Sue Gettlin, Sue Richardson, and Georgene Pilling to dinner with us, and just going around having every day conversations with faculty I never had the opportunity to take for classes, will remain with me forever. What other school can boast about relationships between faculty, staff, administration, and students like we can? Our battle cry for the trip became "dominate," but we already dominate; this trip just brought it out in all of us.
- Brittany McCall

I couldn't possibly pick a favorite location or event from our week in Paris. The late night at the Latin Quarter jazz club, "Le Petite Journal," the evening walk up the endless steps of Montmartre, the three amazing bike excursions with our Texan tour guides--they all added up to one singular experience that was Paris Celebration. Our time in Paris was all too short, but we made the most of it. And I, for one, will definitely be making a return trip.
- Evan Williams

I didn't know anyone going on the trip, and leaving after one week I made friendships and connections with the people on the trip that will be life-lasting. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect week. Arcadia University truly is the master of study abroad.
- Scott Williams

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Celebrating Our Future

Sunday afternoon, July 6: We ended our 60th anniversary of study abroad journey with the celebration of something new: The launch of Arcadia’s summer study abroad program in Paris. Our group gathered at Hotel de Crillion along with new Paris program students, and faculty and staff from the American Graduate School for International Relations and Diplomacy (Arcadia’s affiliated campus in Paris) for an elegant and memorable reception.

Held in a large room with décor in the style of Grey Tower’s Mirror Room, we were welcomed by James Bullock, Minister Counsel for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Arcadia President Jerry Greiner reminisced about our past and offered a toast to Arcadia Trustee Marie-Louise Vermeiren Jackson, whose generosity and support made this new program possible. Two students in our group, Megan Thrash and Shaina McAndrews, are staying on in Paris to participate in the summer program. Sue Richardson from Arcadia’s Center for Education Abroad, will be stationed here during this time.

In additional to the delicious and uniquely presented hors d’ouvres and beverages, one highlight was stepping out onto the room’s balcony for a view of Place de Concorde. It was a joyful and memorable celebration--one that we will not soon forget.
- Sue Gettlin

Pictured above: Students from 60th Anniversary Celebration and summer study abroad in Paris program; Sue Gettlin, Scott Richards and Brittany McCall; Daniel Dotse and Evan Williams.

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Paris Smiles for You

Sunday, July 6: Tourism is being promoted throughout the city with the slogan, “Paris Smiles for You.” I think everyone involved in the 60th Anniversary of Study Abroad celebration feels that Paris really did smile for us. ☺
- Sue Gettlin

Paris Bikes

Sunday morning, July 6: Parisians have a unique way of transporting themselves from one point in the city to another. “Vélib” (“vélo libre” or “vélo liberté,” meaning free bicycle or bicycle freedom) is a self-service “bike hire” system available 24/7. Launched in 2007, 10,000 bicycles were introduced to the city with 750 hire points each with 15 or more bikes/spaces. This number has since doubled.

Riders insert a special pass or a credit card at a Vélib kiosk and select a sturdy, easy-to-ride bike. Rental rates are very cheap: first ½ hour is free; each additional hour is 1 euro. Riders return the bike at any hire point in the city. The Vélib Web site has an interactive map that shows hire points and a real-time inventory of available bikes at each point.

Most Americans are not able to use this service. Your credit card must have a special “smart” chip, not yet available on most U.S. cards.

Learn more at: http://www.blogger.com/www.en.velib.paris.fr/comment_ca_marche
- Sue Gettlin

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fit for a King

Saturday, July 5: Our final bicycle ride was an all-day tour of the palace and grounds of Versailles. Led once more by Fat Tire Bicycle Tours, we picked up our bikes and our guide at their office in Paris early Saturday morning. We rode to the local RER station (regional rail line) and boarded a train with our bikes for a 20 minutes ride to Versailles. Upon reaching Versailles, we shopped for picnic lunches. We found a scrumptious bolangerie/patisserie and bought wonderful things to eat.

This was a really nice ride through the grounds of Versailles and then a visit to the grandest palace in Europe. Despite clouds and some drizzle in the morning, our plastic ponchos did the touch and kept us dry until the weather improved to partially cloudy.

We bicycled through the park to see Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet where she played at being a shepardess with sheep that she painted her favorite colors of pink and blue! At the Grand Trianon, a smaller palace, we marveled at the coordination of the color scheme in which the vibrant pinks of the flowers echoed the rose color of the stone. Also impressive was the man-made Grand Canal (shown in photo above.) Louis XIV liked to impress his court by staging mock naval battles on it. Then on to the magnificent palace of Versailles, which has been painstakingly restored. The audioguide tour filled in many details of life at the palace, such as that the 19 children born of 3 queens were all public events so that people would know they were true heirs!

Both the extraordinary scale of the gardens combined with the grandeur of the palace made this a day to remember.
- Bonnie Hayes and Sue Gettlin

Shown above: Group listening to tour guide on road into Versailles; Brittany McCall and Megan Thrash enjoying lunch at the Grand Trianon; View of Grand Canal from Palace; View of Palace from Apollo Fountain; Sue Gettlin in the Hall of Mirrors.

All that Jazz
After a very enjoyable bike ride to Versailles, three of us went to a jazz restaurant with live music—Le Sherwood Piano Bar on Rue Daunou. If you enjoy a small, laid-back lounge, I recommend going here. We talked for hours while a singer sand jazz and soul songs in English, along with a pianist. The servers speak English and are very friendly. I highly recommend a “chill” night here.
- Kajette Bloomfield

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Dominate the Lane

Friday morning, July 4: Our change in plans earlier in the week paid off. Friday’s weather was sunny and warm, perfect for riding around Paris. We rode a different route than our evening ride—Paris does not lack in beautiful things to see.

Of the 1948 trip, leader John Wallace wrote that riding through Paris during afternoon rush hour was one of the most challenging and memorable experiences. I think we outdid his group with our riding in daytime traffic, especially our group crossing of La Place de Concorde. Our tour guide always made sure we rode safely and obeyed the rules of the road. But in order to not get separated, we had to “dominate the lane”—stay together as a pack and not be intimidated by impatient drivers. I marvel at how quickly we mastered this technique.
- Sue Gettlin

We dressed ourselves in our classy designer Arcadia t-shirts, created by Scott, and swarmed the rues and avenues with our blinding red color as we rode trough the city. I seriously doubt that 60 years ago the first group studying abroad had such a difficult time biking around Europe through all the crazy traffic! But we dominated the roads as often as possible. I love biking and want my own here to get around on since it is so easy!
- Shaina McAndrews

Downtime at the Café
This afternoon I did as the Parisians do and relaxed at a café. It was wonderful to enjoy the quiet and relaxation that we seem to miss out on in the States.
- Jacqueline Cash

Bi-lingual Dining
Happy 4th of July! In order to celebrate, Scott and I decided to "cheat" on our "French diet," and go to MacDonald's for dinner. When we got there, we were very excited to see that some of the items on the menu were in English. When we got up to order, it was a relief to find that the people behind the counters spoke English as well. We did the polite thing and asked (in French) if they spoke English before we ordered. But our encounter at the counter got me thinking.

In many of the restaurants that we have eaten, there had been English descriptions under the French name of the dish. This was a first for me because I have been to several non-English speaking countries, and so far France is the only one where there have been several bi-lingual menus. Besides English menus, I have seen both Spanish and Italian menus at several restaurants. This to me reflects so well on France because to me, it only seems fair that people be expected to speak the native language of the country that they visit. I've tried my best to speak in French when ordering, but is a relief when the waiter or waitress understands me.
- Brittany McCall

Friday Night at the Louvre
I spent the evening at the Louvre, taking advantage of the free admission for visitors under 26 years of age on Friday nights.

My favorite part of my Paris experience thus far, was seeing in person, a lot of the art works I have studied and taught about. Specifically, I enjoyed standing in front of Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa. As I was taking photographs and talking to Maya (Stewart) about my views on this work, a woman came up and asked if she could join in on my mini-lecture.

Also, the Louvre has a new initiative, inviting contemporary artists each year to create works that dialogue with a period of their permanent collection. The current artist is Jan Fabre. His works correspond in conversation with Northern Renaissance paintings of Christ’s flagellation showing wounds from the crucifixion. Favre uses his own body fluids in his early works but later switches to iridescent beetle wings. His self-portraits are most jarring because they are so hyper-realistic. I think it’s telling of the time that such a historic museum is now proactively promoting contemporary art.
- Kajette Bloomfield

The most memorable event of the day was visiting the Mona Lisa and Napoleon’s Apartment at the Musee du Louvre. I have never witnessed such a huge museum in my life. The paintings were breath-taking and the stories behind them are simply inspiring and interesting.
- Daniel Dotse

I decided to visit the Lourve, as I didn’t want to leave Paris without seeing the infamous Mona Lisa. Seeing it in person was an awesome experience, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get close enough to see the details of the painting. Fortunately, the Louvre was probably the biggest museum I have ever been in and there were countless other exhibits to see. I really enjoyed seeing the section on Greek art and getting an up-close looking at hundreds of different sculptures. In addition, my walk through Napoleon’s apartment was one of the highlights of my trip.

Late Friday evening, a group of us took a trip to Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) on Montmatre, which is home to one of the best views in Paris. Here we sat with dozens of locals and tourists who all came to enjoy the romantic location and the great view. It was truly an awesome place to relax and hang out while overlooking the whole city.
- Matt Bauer

Shown above: Group in front of Napolean's Tomb; Maya Stewart, Jacqueline Cash and Matt Bauer; Daniel Dotse in the Louvre; Evan Williams in front of Mona Lisa.

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An Unkind Reminder

Friday morning, July 4: While traveling on the metro to our Paris Day Bike Ride, two of our group members were pick-pocketed. We entered a crowded car together, all wearing the same Arcadia T-shirts, looking and acting like tourists. We were chatting and distracted—perfect targets for petty thieves. Both incidents were so quick that the victims didn’t realized what had happened until it was too late. One was lucky—the thief had grabbed their passport, thinking it was a wallet and then exited the car at the next stop. Disappointed, the thief threw the passport back at the moving train. Miraculously, it flew threw a partially open window and landed at the group member’s feet. It was only then that we realized what had gone on. The incidents were vivid reminders that we needed to be careful and pay more attention to our surroundings.
- Sue Gettlin