Fashion Major Outing to the Institut du Monde Arabe!

The Fashion Major enjoyed a guided visit of the exhibition “Divas” at the Institut du Monde Arabe. The exhibit focused on the legacy of famous singers/actresses/dancers from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. These women made a massive impact on music history as well as visual arts, such as Oum Kalthoum, Fayrouz, Dalida, Warda, and Asmahan…just to name a few! Then they enjoyed admiring the architecture of the building and the incredible views from the rooftop. 

Macaron Tour Part Deux

On Saturday, a group of lucky students had the chance to go sample macarons from both La Durée and Pierre Hermé. These two maisons are considered the top two macaron creators in France, and both originate from the city of Paris.

In the end, the group was divided on which macarons are best: La Durée or Pierre Hermé…up to you to come to Paris to decide for yourself!

Le château Vaux Le Vicomte

Saturday, we all went to the famous château de Vaux Le Vicomte!! It’s a baroque style castle built between 1656-1661 by the architect Louis Le Vau and owned by Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet was later imprisoned by King Louis XIV.

This pool was designed to have a perfect reflexion of the château from the end of the garden.

The gardens were designed by André Le Nôtre, the same man who later did the Versailles gardens.

We also got to see the château at night lit up by candles.

Finally one of the best parts of the night was the fireworks that happen right by the château! There was a voice over narration during the fireworks describing the history of Fouquet and the château.

We finally headed back home on the buses and had a pizza party before all going to bed!

Cupcake contest!

On Friday afternoon, the Fashion and Culture and Cuisine minors organized a “Cupcake contest” where students were able to decorate cupcakes. They needed to have a theme that linked both fashion and cuisine. Those cupcakes were then rated by a panel of judges based on their concept, title and discourse, creativity and originality, motivation and effort, group cohesion, and finally the style and trend!

Here are the pictures of the preparation of the cupcakes!!

Preparing the cupcakes

Afterwords the students had to face the judges and present their work!!

During the presentation

Finally, here are some of the cupcakes on display as well as our two teachers that were here to help our students through the creative and culinary process.

The final products

It was a very hard competition to judge. The panel had a very hard time rating all of the beautiful cupcakes. All of the creations were very well thought out and executed.

The judges panel !!

Cooking class!

“The treasures of the French seas. The students learned how to properly open an oyster and got to try it as well as sea snails. They made a Parisian style sauce and a mayonnaise to accompany it. We also tried a creole specialty called “Accras de morue”. The class then learned how to prepare sea breams from Normandie“ – Tom Kielbasa

Friday: guest speaker, museum, performance workshops…

This morning the Medicine Major had a master class with a special guest speaker Jason Van Genderen, MD. They discussed “Vaccinations: History, current perspectives, and ethics”

On Friday, the Art History Minor class went to the Orangerie. Here is Anna-Sung admiring the Nymphéas by Monet.

 

On the same day, the French Minor classes had the opportunity to meet Jihene Slimani, dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, who shared her experiences leading dance troupes around the world and being part of the hiphop opera Les Indes Galantes at Opera Garnier. Thanks to Leslie for bringing her, and thanks to Jihene for the inspiration!

Also, students from the Paris Ville Imaginaire class created their own performance in French, inspired by a classic scene from the film “Hôtel du Nord”, that they watched in class! So much fun and creativity!

In the afternoon some students (the bravest ones!) went to the Catacombes

Oxbridge Paris blog takeover by the Creative Writing Major

1. The Creative Writing Major trekking through literary Paris.

Introduction

            Bonjour, welcome to the creative writing class’s takeover of the Oxbridge Paris blog! There are only five of us, but although we lack in size, we make up for it with our big personalities…Phoebe is from Nashville, Tennessee. She loves the metro and walking in the rain even when her classmates complain about it. Julia is from São Paulo, Brazil, but she lives in Milan, which is why she seems to be the only one disappointed by the pizza in France. Emma is from Sun Valley, Idaho, and despite what you might think, there aren’t potatoes everywhere. Flora is from the golden state, which explains why she’s the slowest walker. In contrast, Lucia is the fastest walker in the class since she’s from New York City. Despite us all being from very different places, what brings us together is our common love for coffee, Harry Styles, and writing (in that order). When we aren’t begging our teacher, Jeremy, for coffee or asking where we’re going, we write and read literature set in Paris and elsewhere. In fact, throughout our journaling adventures in Paris, we have each been inspired by certain locations and decided to give you a glimpse into our messy and well-traveled notebooks. These locations include: The Luxembourg Garden, Place de la Sorbonne, the Montparnasse Cemetery, Rue Mouffetard, and Forum des Halles. 

Luxembourg Garden 

2 A morning view at the Jardin du Luxembourg

The children are drawn in towards the pond in the center of the garden; the circle of laughter and play around the water acts as a magnet. Adults and teenagers sit in chairs outside the circle. Even though they play off indifference to the children playing with boats, their chairs point in the direction that faces them. There are men and women with stoic faces and cigarettes in their hands who choose to come and witness joy each day though they likely wouldn’t phrase it as such. In the game that the children are playing, they each hold a one-meter stick in their hand while there are little sailboats scattered throughout the pond. The children stand at the edge of the pond and wait for a sailboat to float over to them. When one finally does, they push it out into the center of the pond with their stick; this moment is quite exciting. Sometimes, they even run to the other side to try to hit the same boat again. The sense of community in their simple game forces passersby to slow their walk and those who sit to turn their chair. 

The garden is noisy from the wind, laughter, and people mowing lawns. The flowers are working incredibly hard: they are the city’s most prominent source of beauty that comes from nature, so they have to be. The statues, fountains, and architecture surrounding them encourage them to grow as tall as strict gardeners will allow. Their bright petals open as if they present themselves to Paris: “look at how beautiful I am for you.” – Phoebe

Place De La Sorbonne

3 At “L’Ecritoire” in Place de la Sorbonne

Over the cars fumbling about down the street, in this little corner of cafes and history, people speak softly amongst their tables, scattered about in an ocean of red and blue circles. Soft “S’s” and “J’s” are all that can be heard by someone nearby. Of course, this silence could be due to the lack of privacy, usually provided by the roaring fountains, drowning out secrets or small gossip when turned on. I wonder if people would speak louder if they were able to, or if this is just perhaps how they talk at cafes, sipping their fresh caramel-colored coffees elegantly every few words. In fact, a waft of warm coffee floats around, along with the smell of pool water from the fountain and the taste of the green trees arching above. Sure, the towering dark blue doors and pointy dome of the Université de la Sorbonne are grand, and beautiful, and a photo-crazy tourist’s dream. 

Yet. I feel lucky to have gotten to see the fountains turned off. To have realized the smell of chlorine in the water is usually disguised by its movement, making it seemingly perfect to visitors looking to experience “traditional French cafes”. For it to have been so quiet I could hear the women argue over a suitcase in Spanish, which was rolled back and forth and back and forth on the cobblestone sidewalk. To have seen a man talk sternly on the phone, newspaper and morning cappuccino besides his resting hand, while another talked happily in the same image as him. To have had an experience that felt more real, and perhaps more authentically “French”, whatever that may mean, than if the quiet had not been present. – Julia

The Montparnasse Cemetery 

4″Souvenir” at the heart of Montparnass Cemetery

 For somewhere dedicated to death, this place does not feel how you would think it should feel. Bursts of colorful flowers line every inch of this place. Large trees run along the pathways, providing shade to those who visit often, and to those who do not. The sunlight warms and glows everything it touches. It is peaceful, not dark or dank or fear-inducing as one might theorize these places to be. There is also an air of mystery about this place. So many different lives and yet somehow each of their stories weave together in the end. Here lie the lovers, fighters, musicians, artists, bankers, writers, stonemasons, builders, cooks, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, people with secrets, notorious gossips, nameless vagrants, famous poets, all together. The angel watching over them. – Emma

Rue Mouffetard

5 At the top of Rue Mouffetard in Place de la Contrescarpe

A mother buying spices to make dinner in the evening. A red-faced toddler reaching for a chocolate bar on the shelf just out of his reach. A group of schoolgirls buying chips but distracted by a magazine on the counter. Outside, a painter, waiting for a perfect canvas to pass by. A narrow street in the center of a busy square. Artists sit by the fountain, focused on the people passing by them. Down they go, spiraling down this narrow street. The people in this neighborhood represent many cultures, as shown by the variety of food options: Greek, Syrian, Italian, Arabian. Food from many countries, as well as a cheese shop, since we are still in Paris. 

Walking down this narrow street, you pass by hardworking faces, hungry people in a rush to get food. You sit down at a noisy, but warm cafe on Place de la Contrescarpeand watch as the world passes you by. I can understand now why Hemingway was able to sit here all day. – Flora

Forum des Halles

6Writing at Les Halles

View. All I can see is a glimpse of architectural Paris through the large, modern, arched opening of the mall. A mix of new and old technology. Tourists are shopping in a French mall filled with American brands. Parisians taking note of the outfits people have on. As I am writing, tourists with hoodies that say Paris right smack in the middle pass me. The mall is large and free. Pigeons are able to hop up the steps and, what looks like, play tag. To small-town folk, this could be considered a small city within itself. As people walk by quickly, there are, masks, small expensive handbags that are in fashion, air force ones, classic trench coats, Sephora shopping bags, covid restriction signs, wet umbrellas drying off, bikes passing through, suitcases, strollers, baguettes, the bright color red at every point, maps, hiking backpacks, grocery store shopping bags, floral dresses, collared shirts, cameras, cigarettes, hand sanitizing stands. Will covid restrictions and masks always be an observation worth noting? – Lucia

Conclusion

            Lastly, we just wanted to say a big thank you to our teacher Jeremy for supplying us with coffee and cheering the class up with One Direction videos when we’re tired. He has taught us how writing can be shaped and crafted into so much more than just a research paper or an academic essay. And, while we respect and acknowledge the creativity in any writing, it was essential for all of us to learn how to write by our own individual rules. Jeremy continuously encourages our creativity and pushes us to experiment with our writing. This class has become a safe space where there is no criticism or fear of sharing our ideas, and we are all glad to be part of this (little) creative writing family.

XOXO,

The Creative Writing girls

7 The Creative Writing Major Dinner at Au Petit Suisse

WAIT!!! Now It’s Jeremy the Creative Writing Teacher’s Blog Takeover

Dear Oxbridge Friends,

Please forgive me, but I couldn’t leave all the fun of this takeover to the students! I just had to chime in and tell you how proud I am of Emma, Flora, Julia, Phoebe, and Lucia for the wonderful work they have done in giving us a literary glimpse of their Parisian experiences from the past few weeks. The writing you see above, with its colorful renderings of the sights and sounds of Paris, with its evocative ambiances and atmospheres, may make reference to Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, George Orwell, and Paul Theroux, just as it may carry echoes of Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Isadora Duncan, and even a little Georges Perec, but this is entirely the work of the talented students. It’s true that, at the beginning of July, I invited them to join me in a month of urban and literary exploration, but these young women transformed that invitation into a full immersion into a writerly life in Paris. 

After just three weeks, we have had so many experiences together that we have hardly had a chance to keep you up with our news. We have made the Jardin du Luxembourg into an extension of our classroom, and something like an open-air writing studio. We visited a world-class exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, where Damien Hirst’s paintings of blooming cherry trees are still impressing us as if it were yesterday. Just Friday morning we experimented with collage techniques with artist Virgile Demoustier, just a couple of days after spending time with poet Carrie Chappell and learning about her experiences writing through the quotidian Parisian, even in quarantine. We visited Versailles, we went to outdoor sculpture museums, we scoured the shelves of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, we visited a post-modernist garden from the set of Game of Thrones, and wrote constantly, filling our notebooks as we crisscrossed Paris. And yes, we even found a fewoccasions to stop and enjoy a coffee on the terraces of Parisian cafes, sometimes with literary histories, and always with style.

The summer is not yet over, and the Creative Writing major students still have plenty to look forward to, including artistic collaborations, revision workshops, more trips through Paris, and a final showcase in which to feature their best work. Even so, I couldn’t be prouder of these young writers, and I am so happy to be able to share samples of their work with you. The literary future looks bright! So, my thanks to you, Creative Writers! You give me hope. – Jeremy

8 Paris weather wasn’t always conducive to notebooking…
9 But the Sun Also Rises!

It’s Versailles day again!!

On Thursday, the second group of students got to go to Versailles. This week, the fashion, creative writing, one of the French classes and the psychology majors were the lucky ones to experience the visit while the castle was empty!

Here are a few snippets of this beautiful visit.

A sunny Wednesday in Paris

On Wednesday the French major class welcomed an actor and director from a large Parisian company who gave a workshop to the students.

On Wednesday afternoon, some students went to the Mosquée de Paris to have tea and pasteries with Milena while some others went to the Rodin museum with Lou.

Art History class on their way to the Centre Pompidou