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Julia Peterson

Julia Peterson is from Grand Rapids, MI and is a Senior at Hope. She is majoring in French and Communications and minoring in Studio Art. After graduation she plans on finding a job in Marketing, Advertising or PR and hopes to do some traveling as well!

As a nine year old girl touring Paris and the Loire Valley with my family, I dreamed of nothing more than learning French and going back one day to live in Paris, speak the language, and embrace the people, culture, art and food France is so famous for. This Spring ’10 semester I was able to fulfill those dreams and spend four months living in the 17th Arrondissement of Paris with a host family and studying with the IES Paris French Studies program. As a French and Communications Major with a minor in Studio Art, it was my goal to take full advantage of all the art and history at my disposal, so I was able to take classes in French that took weekly excursions to different museums in the city, experiencing first hand the pieces and movements in art that we studied each day in class. I also took a class at the Sorbonne Paris IV: “Art et Architecture on the Stained Glass Windows in 12th and 13th Century Gothic Architecture,” which allowed me to study the most influential architects, sculptors and artists of the time period by visiting the very cathedrals that made them famous.

During my time in Paris I learned how to ask more questions than I ever thought possible, how to find my way home after a wrong change on the metro, how to open my mind and palette to a plethora of dishes, how to disguise my pointedly Anglophone accent and how to dress à la parisienne. But beyond those trivial things I learned, there are also those more significant elements: how home can be so many places and people at once, how life can be so full of flavor, color and vibrancy that it doesn’t seem real, and how sometimes the best decision you can make is not making one but just allowing life to unfold as it will. I truly enjoyed my time in Paris and traveling in France and around Europe, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to fully experience such a different culture and meet such amazing people. Wherever my French may take me in the future, I know that living in Paris was a formative part of who I am today.