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Springtime in Paris

Honors program hosts new study abroad experience

Lori Shah, who traveled to the Loire Valley, southwest of Paris, to view the Chateau D'Amboise
What I enjoy most about being in France is living in a place where the actual objects, paintings, buildings and parks that we are learning about in our classes are readily at hand for us to observe,” says freshmen Lori Shah, who traveled to the Loire Valley, southwest of Paris, to view the Chateau D'Amboise.

There is a piece of UFs vast campus not defined by the landmark Century Tower, but rather by the Eiffel Tower. UFs Paris Research Center (PRC), established in 2003, hosts Honors in Paris, a new study abroad initiative offered through the UF Honors Program."

The program kicked off this semester, sending its first 18 students to the city of light. Instead of crossing the Plaza of the Americas to get to class, these students stroll through Paris’ Montparnasse Quarter to historic Reid Hall, the site of the PRC.

“I decided to study in Paris because I have always wanted to study abroad, and wanted to study in a country where I could speak the language at least enough to get by,” linguistics freshman Lori Shah says.

“I chose to participate during my second semester at UF so I could see what it is like to study abroad before I got too involved with my major to be able to use a whole semester for other courses.”

Though Honors in Paris is offered through the UF Honors Program, it is not limited to honors students, and its dozen and a half participants are not exclusively French majors. “There is a mix of students,” says Kristin Joos, an advisor for the Honors Program who helps select participants.

“About half of the students are French majors or minors, but there are students from a wide range of majors, including art history, advertising, mechanical engineering, political science and psychology.” Joos provides individualized advising for the participants, and this year numerous students are conducting research projects for honors theses.

Honors in Paris was created at the request of Associate Provost and Honors Program Director Sheila Dickison who wanted to provide opportunities of distinction for honors students. Conceived by Gayle Zachmann, PRC director, the program is unique since it allows at least three to four UF professors to teach full-time in Paris during the spring semester. “Honors in Paris was designed as a four month research seminar, uniting internationally renowned UF scholars from different fields and providing unprecedented research opportunities for faculty and students alike,” says Zachmann. “The courses are tailored around a theme that changes each year. Faculty members address the theme through their own disciplinary perspective, taking advantage of the particularly rich resources at their disposal in Europe.”

This spring’s theme is “Engagements with Modern France: Literature, Politics and the Visual Arts, 1850–2005.” Four three-credit courses are being offered, including Art History Professor Melissa Hyde’s Impressions of the Modern: Painting Paris in the 19th Century, Center for European Studies Director Amie Kreppel’s France and the European Union: A History of Ups and Downs, History Professor Sheryl Kroen’s A Cultural History of 20th Century France and Zachmann’s Engagements: Literature, Criticism and Cultural Politics in Modern French Letters.

In addition to classes, participants are attending guest lectures and enjoying cultural events. The program also pairs UF students with French counterparts from the Sorbonne to help them better learn Paris’ native language and culture, and students are sent to the city’s myriad museums and on excursions throughout France. To cap off the semester, students will travel to Normandy, Provence and Brussels.

“Paris is the perfect place to study the major developments in literature, social science, art, and life in general,” says Matt Pagett, a senior majoring in French with a minor in business. “Being in the places where so many things have happened is amazing.”

Zachmann already has decided on the Spring 2006 semester theme, “Imaging the World: Cultural Production of 20th Century Paris,” and courses related to historical photography, visual arts and cultural anthropology are planned. To apply, students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average, but they do not have to speak French. “We accept applications on a rolling basis through early fall,” says Joos. However, it is a very competitive program, so students should apply as soon as possible.”

Visit http://www.honors.ufl.edu/studyabroad.html or E-mail paris-research@clas.ufl.edu for more information.

English and French senior Amy Harris says she definitely recommends the program to other students, but has some advice. “Be prepared to work! Honors in Paris lives up to its promise when it says that it offers a rigorous academic program.”

—Warren Kagarise and Allyson A. Beutke

Photos:
Courtesy Lori Shah

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