In Retrospect

Well.

It has been quite a while since I visited this blog. My life is completely different now, and I have accomplished so many things since my study abroad experience two years ago. So, why now? Why have I spent my entire night revisiting every blog post, and have even been persuaded to create a post such as this at nearly 2 in the morning?

To recap in extreme brevity, I am now a graduate student studying art history at the University of Kansas. I am in my first semester, and I am taking a seminar about Paris! In the process of procrastinating some homework on a Sunday night, I decided to revisit this blog, as I was feeling a bit nostalgic. Down the rabbit hole I fell. So that brings me here.

I am absolutely astounded to see that this blog is visited regularly, by people from all over the world. I had no idea people were still visiting this blog, since I had forgotten about it myself. Well, after a night of reminiscence and re-discovery, I would like to share a few thoughts.

I would like to first state that I never finished this blog, and I deeply regret that. Obviously, I was incredibly busy in the last half of my semester in Paris. However, I included so much detail that I would otherwise never have remembered. I really can relive my semester through those posts, although it also seems like another life lived by another person. In some ways, it is. However, by not taking the time to create posts about the end of my semester, I am missing out on some great memories. Sure I still have the photographs, and I could potentially try and re-create image-filled posts with the few details I have left in my memory, but it would not be the same as the rest of this blog. I am conflicted as to whether that would benefit me, or anyone else, to do that two years after the fact.

Some of the things that this blog is missing from that time include a visit from my German friend, Sophia, and her sister. My grandmother and mother also visited me for a week in November, during Thanksgiving, and I got to play tour guide. We took day trips to Bruges and to Chartres. Also, I wish I had written about Paris around Christmastime, which is magical. I spent more time in Montmartre and went to the Dali museum. I crossed more things off of my list, including Sainte-Chapelle, Garnier’s Opera (twice!), the Paris Catacombs, and Disneyland. I made a super cute video with my friend Anna for my film class. I went to the Louvre a few more times and finally found the Code of Hammurabi. During my last weekend in Paris, Nelson Mandela died. The Eiffel Tower was lit in tribute to him. I visited the Abbey Church of Saint Denis, and my life was forever changed. My friend Miranda’s then-boyfriend came to visit her, and we went to Père Lachaise. The next day, they went to Saint Denis, and he proposed to her. I am still great friends with both of them, and was delighted to attend their wedding. There were many, many other things, too.

After returning to the US, I did end up getting a car, and I have been on many road trips across the US since! I still have not been back to Paris. I have, however, returned to Europe. This past summer, after graduating from KCAI with my BFA in photography and art history, I spent 3 weeks backpacking in Europe. I went to Istanbul, Prague, Salzburg, and spent a week in Spain. I planned all of this myself, along with my best friend from high school, Amelija, who joined me after Istanbul. All of that would not have happened if it weren’t for everything I learned during my semester abroad.

I mentioned that Saint Denis changed my life. It is evident throughout small bits of my posts here, but I fell in love with Gothic cathedrals during my Paris semester. I initially chose to study in Paris due to what I believed was my art historical passion; 19th-20th century French art. By the end of the trip, I was a Medievalist. I spent the rest of my junior year writing what would equate to an undergraduate thesis on the Abbey Church of Saint Denis. I used this to apply to graduate schools, and I presented it last spring at the Midwest Art Historical Society (MAHS) Annual Conference in Minneapolis, as well as KCAI’s annual Art History Symposium. Another change occurred in my interests during this time. My love of Medieval architecture expanded to Islamic Art, hence my desire to travel to Istanbul and Andalusia this past summer. I am now working toward my Masters in Art History, and I feel that anything is possible!

I have considered updating this blog with the aforementioned backpacking travels. I did dutifully keep a hand-written journal throughout the trip, as I did not bring a computer with me. The journal was, of course, a result of this blog, and the regret I still hold from not finishing it. I wonder if posting my more recent travel experiences would be helpful to anyone else, and considering the clicks I see this blog getting, I think they may be. Endless free time is not something I have as a graduate student, but here I am, writing this post.

I hope this blog inspires and informs anyone who is interested. I hope this post in particular is useful to someone other than myself, though it could also be only useful to me, and I guess that’s okay. Maybe not, it’s after 2AM now. I have to TA a class in the morning and I really should be sleeping. Who knows, I may not be finished with this blog yet!

Weekend 4: Saturday, Back to the Louvre!

Saturday I woke up with my throat feeling even worse than it did before. I did not want to have another rainy, stay-inside-all-day sick day, so I decided what better thing to do than go to the Louvre? I took a ton of vitamin C, had a mug of tea, and set off through the rain.

This time, I started off exploring the Egyptian section. The Louvre has the most amazing and extensive collection of Egyptian art I have ever seen. It’s not just typical things you see in most museums, either. They have artifacts covering the entire range of Ancient Egyptian life. Just by walking through the galleries I feel like I gained a much better sense of what life was like for them than I have at any other time. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt and would love to take a class on it (hey there, Ancient Art History credit I still need to fulfill) but seeing this collection really peaked my interest not only artistically, but regarding every aspect of their lifestyle. They were a really incredible people.

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This is what it’s like to look at Egyptian art at the Louvre. Yeah.

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Their mummy is much bigger than the Nelson’s and doesn’t have a creepy computer generated face on the label.

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One of the most colorful steles I’ve seen

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I think in a past life I may have been an Egyptian. As a child, my favorite toys were things that were very small. Polly Pocket, doll houses, you name it. I was the Queen of Tiny Toys. I also love things that are colorful and shiny. And, my favorite animals are cats and monkeys. Well, guess what they have a lot of in Egyptian artifacts? Tiny, colorful, shiny cats and monkeys!!!

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They have tons of other super tiny, intricate little sculptures as well. They are amazing!

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Look at the tiny hedgehog on the far left!! I didn’t even know they had hedgehogs in Egypt…

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Also, some of the works were lit really beautifully. My phone pictures do it no justice, you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

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One of the reasons I picked Ancient Egyptian was because I figured it would eventually lead to the Seated Scribe and Code of Hammurabi. The Scribe was almost at the end of the Egyptian collection and when I finally saw it, it actually surprised me. It’s so big and vibrant!

I looked deep into the eyes of the Seated Scribe

I looked deep into the eyes of the Seated Scribe

For some reason I find a lot of Egyptian artwork in museums to be really amusing. One of my favorite things at the Nelson is the Egyptian head that looks exactly like Voldemort. Well, the Louvre has not escaped this scrutiny either.

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This guy can not handle losing his nose

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The Louvre has Voldemorts too! But they have ears.

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Does anyone actually swim like this?? They’re like Ancient Egyptian versions of those scuba diver bath toys.

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I found the ears

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He’s so blue, he don’t know what to do

After I got through the Ancient Egyptian stuff I wanted to keep looking at ancient collections so I moved on to Greek and Roman.

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They have soo much pottery!! I was amazed no one was in there until I went in and it was a bajillion degrees. I will probably spend some quality time in there when it gets colder.

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I went in a circle somehow so I took the elevator downstairs and ended up right at the Venus de Milo.

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I just kept walking through the sculptures. They were generally either missing really important body parts or had too much of the ones that remained. Also some craaazzzy headless drapery going on.

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Those obliques are intense

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This guy reminds me of someone… (hint: Nelson)

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She has some serious issues

No, this is just a wall in the museum.

No, this is just a wall in the museum. Above a fireplace.

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After the Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, you are directly led to Northern European sculpture. The subject matter goes from ancient gods of marble to Jesus, Mary, and Popes in painted wood.

Well, except for her.

Well, except for her.

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Oh no, Jesus 😦

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There’s that Northern love of grotesque detail I learned about!

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All the while, I was trying to figure out how to get over to the rest of the ancient stuff where the Code of Hammurabi is, but I ended back in Italian and French painting where I was last time. Not that this is a bad thing, but I wanted to see new sections and I spent a lot of time there during my last visit. I finally figured out that I would need to get to the opposite side of the museum to see the rest of the ancient works, so I decided to go to Northern painting instead. It took me a while to find that, too, but when I finally did it was so worth it!

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I totally forgot that these paintings were in the Louvre until I was standing in the room looking around me and I think I audibly said, ohhhhh! It was a nice surprise.

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Look at the Louvre trying to be cute. Too bad no one follows this sign. Literally as I took this there was a woman photographing a statue using her flash. Sigh.

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Hey there Lucas Cranach the Elder. He has a very similar composition at the Nelson.

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Did not know this was here. Yay!

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I super-studied this painting in art history and I think even wrote an essay about it. It’s really darkened in person.

From one of my favorite places to say, the Studiolo in Urbino!!

From one of my favorite places to say, the Studiolo in Urbino!!

Also did not know this was here. The inside is in beautiful condition!

Also did not know this was here. The inside is in beautiful condition!

I shall end with this.

I shall end with this.

Some day I might go to the Louvre and actually bring my fancy camera. I want to experience it all with just my eyes first. Also when it’s not raining and there are less tourists. Working at the Nelson this summer spoiled me and I want museums to always be empty when I’m photographing in them!

Week 4: Sick Days & Travel Plans

This past week was pretty uneventful, mostly because I spent the weekend not doing school-related things and then I remembered I was a student. I’m very good at time management and don’t put things off, but I am going to have to figure out how to balance sight-seeing on the weekends and doing homework. Luckily, my teacher gave us another week on our first photo assignment which saved me from being super stressed out.

Also, this week it officially became fall in Paris. After Sunday, leaves were on the ground and it has rained every day. I can even wear boots, a scarf, and my jacket and not look crazy. The rain isn’t too bad since it’s more of a constantly drizzle/mist, but I hope there are at least a few clear days in the future.

Tuesday I met with Francesca and her children for the first time. They are family friends who live here in Paris. I actually had one of her daughters pose in a photograph for my assignment! They have a really charming apartment and a very friendly cat that sheds everywhere. Also, I am now their babysitter for this semester! This was an unexpected but welcome surprise. Tuesday night my friends and I went back to Saint Michel to eat in front of Notre Dame because it’s the best. Of course I got more gelato!

Thursday I felt myself getting sick all day, which was exactly what I didn’t want to happen while I was here, especially this early on. After class I went to a pharmacie to get throat medicine and vitamin C, and then oranges and nectarines at the market. I have been OD’ing on vitamin C ever since and I think it is working! I spent Thursday night vegging out and finally watched Monsters University, which was great.

Friday morning I met with some friends to shoot another photo for my project, then spent the rest of the day editing my Versailles photos and consuming tons of vitamin C. By the end of the day I was tired of sitting in the same spot, so I went out to Le Bar a Soupes, a place recommended to me by my art history teacher and fellow vegetarian (thanks Madeline!!). All of the soups looked delicious but I chose a mixed vegetable soup. It was perfect for my throat and very filling. I spent the night watching In Bruges to get myself pumped to go to Bruges at some point while I’m here. Speaking of which…

One of the more exciting things that developed this week was that I started making travel plans for while I am here! I already have tickets to go to Poland for a short trip the last weekend of October to visit a friend from high school, and a weekend in Florence during November is in the works. I also want to take day trips to Bruges, Aachen, and possibly Amsterdam. I had a really big “duh” moment when I realized that I could go to Munich for Oktoberfest this year! I wish I had thought of it sooner because now everything is pretty booked or expensive. I’m going to try and find a way to get there, though. It would fulfill all my little middle school dreams when I first started to study German and celebrated Oktoberfest in school every year. Sorry France, but Germany is still my favorite country! If I had the money, I would travel somewhere every weekend. There’s so much to see and I have such easy access while I’m in Europe. I want to take advantage of that as much as possible while I’m here. Of course, there is plenty to see and do in Paris as well! I mean, I haven’t even been up the Eiffel Tower yet. Woops.