Tian Tian ’11 – With the combination of an art major with French and economics minors, as well as a life-long passion for classical music, I simply cannot think of a better place than Paris to spend my study-abroad semester. This is a city that helps me digest what I have learned in the past, inspires me to learn a lot of new things at present, and shows me a lot of possibilities to better develop myself in my future.

After a whole months’ advanced French language immersion at a beautiful medieval town named “Tours” located in southwestern France, I returned to Paris and started my five classes at the Catholic Institute of Paris – an art history class ranging from the period Renaissance to Impressionism, a French history class and three advanced-level French language classes.
My favorite class is the art history class, partially because the location of our classroom is in the Louvre Museum! One out of every three class periods, the professor takes us to the Louvre Museum to observe and analyze in front of the real paintings or sculptures that we had studied and analyzed during classes. Moreover, I also get a great opportunity to do an externship call “Louvre Nocturne” during December. My responsibility during this externship is to present and interpret the paintings in French, English or Chinese language to the visitors of the Louvre Museum. I regard this as a great opportunity to sharpen my French language skill and my oral-presentation skill.
Another class called “The grand period of French history” is the most challenging history class I could ever expect. Other than the all-in-French nature of this class, the contents range from the 5th century to the 19th century of French history. During this class, I follow very carefully the three-hour-long lectures stuffed with key words and details given by the professor. Meanwhile, I am expected to burn some serious time myself in the library to fill in the details relevant to the topic mentioned during the classes because those will be in the exam! The most productive part is that I get to do comparative study on how differently the French history is interpreted in its own nation, in the US and in China. This really helps me to realize critical thinking and develop objectivity.
During my leisure times, I take full advantage of the richness of the top-notch museums in Paris. Since I hold an “art history student museum pass”, I get to visit all the art museums in Paris free. After appreciating the French impressionism for over ten years, I finally get to visit the “Musée de l’Orangerie”, in which there are Claude Monet’s famous “Waterlilies” oil paintings on eight huge canvases with a total length of ninety-one meters. Meanwhile, I have already developed my favorite activity in Paris which is to walk along the left bank of Seine River, watching the amazing views and culture relics the left bank bears. Walking along the bank that has influenced countless painters, musicians and writers, I understand better the core value and history of Paris.
During “All-Saint’s Day” on November 1st, the local Parisians’ custom is to visit Cemetery “Père-Lachaise” to respect the tombs of their favorite celebrities, including Balzac, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas etc. That day I visited my long-worshiped composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin’s tomb. It was definitely a spiritual experience, blessing me with considerable inspiration and confidence to my own upcoming Chopin solo concert in April 2010.
I am truly grateful to Wabash for offering me such an amazing study-abroad semester. It allows me to experience in person the culture and arts I have been studying and practicing. It goes without saying that this experience enhances my previous studies at Wabash as well as offers me a lot of new inspiration for my future development.