Thursday, June 14, 2012

Verrazano Student Anticipates her Literary Adventure in Paris

Alicia Jimenez, Verrazano Class of 2013, is a Spring 2012 recipient of a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship to support her study abroad experience in France during the summer.  This is the first of three posts that Alicia will be contributing about her participation in the study abroad program.

I am incredibly excited to be going to Paris this summer. My reasons for being excited may seem obvious—of course I’m excited to go to Paris, it’s Paris! Paris is one of the top travel destinations in the world, an absolute must-see for anyone wishing to venture out from their home borders and experience rich culture. But what truly excites me about going to Paris, beyond the simple idea of getting to leave the country for the first time in my life, is my program.

Alicia Jimenez
I have always had the idea of studying abroad in the back of my head throughout my undergraduate career. The Verrazano School always encouraged this idea, particularly with their study abroad panels. Hearing about other students’ experiences abroad really made me determined to check out the programs for myself, because they proved to me what I had already believed: international education is absolutely essential to any student who has an interest in broadening his or her worldview and experiencing new cultures. We are fortunate to live in a multiethnic city full of different types of people, but there is something entirely different about experiencing different types of people somewhere outside of our home. It can be frightening, exciting and invigorating, and absolutely a rewarding experience.

There is also something different about learning abroad, and this is why I believe travel is so essential to students. Students are constantly taking in new information, seeking out new information, and what I love about academia is that it never really stops. This is why I want to stay in academia, contributing to this cycle of teaching and constantly learning from each other. I also know that people learn best in context, and this is true for anything. My chosen field of English Literature is incredibly exciting because it can take you anywhere; Hemingway has brought me to the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and to the streets of Paris with his words, and all I have ever wanted is to follow him physically, to walk (or, more realistically, fly!) myself there. Traveling broadens the context of learning, enriching it farther than our minds can.

This is how I knew that Paris, A Literary Adventure was the perfect program for me. This is what truly sealed my determination to study abroad. In this program, I will quite literally be following in Hemingway’s footsteps, as well as those of Gertrude Stein, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, and others. For a month, I will be enriching myself in the literature of those who travelled to Paris and used the city as a wealth of inspiration and an exchange of culture. They used their experiences abroad to better understand their identities as Americans, and American identity is a subject that I am particularly fascinated by, particularly on a global scale. I hope to continue examining it in graduate school and beyond, and this is a first and crucial step. Reading and discussing the works that these writers created in the city that inspired and housed them will truly heighten this understanding, and I absolutely cannot wait to start!

Ernest Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” I happen to believe that this is true for study abroad in general, and that what I learn in Paris will absolutely stay with me, perhaps more than any other experience as an undergraduate. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, because I love to read, learn, and understand new ideas, and there is no better forum in which to do so than a global forum.

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