Next Stop Paris

Hi there! I’m Stephanie, a graduate student in Art History and I am writing this note on a layover in Washington Dulles on my way to France for the USF Summer Art & Art History Program in Paris. I wanted to introduce myself and share more about the program and how I prepared for study abroad.

I’m a somewhat non-traditional student, returning to USF for my master’s in art history after graduating from law school and a having a career. As a graduate student, my interests lie in early modern books and women, more specifically, books of hours, prayer books popular in the 14th-16th centuries. Needless to say, books are one of my favorite things and Paris was at the epicenter of the book trade in the early sixteenth century, making the city and its archives important to my study. With this in mind, I will also be visiting the Bibliothéque nationale de France to conduct research into my thesis proposal on sixteenth century French printed books of hours.

Part of my pre-departure preparation has been organizing my research. Much of what I will be researching is in the Mitterrand library of the Bibliothéque nationale de France, so I made sure to catch up on their reservation policies and the documentation needed to gain access to their books and manuscripts. Summer is a busy research time, so having a reservation in advance is a must. I will be traveling to do more research after Paris, so besides my suitcase, am only traveling with a journal for class, notebook, pencils, highlighters and post-its. My academic writing is nothing short of atrocious, and is something I am working on this summer, so I’m also bringing a travel friendly copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

There are many things I have set out to do over the next three weeks, but for me the most important is to make Paris my home.  When you live somewhere, you have daily rituals, maybe someone you see each morning and make a point to say hello to when grabbing your paper or a café where you begin your day with coffee and a croissant. This is what the next three weeks in Paris are to me, experiencing the rituals and ebbs and flows of a neighborhood and a city and making a space for myself where I live, sleep, study, practice yoga, and do many of the things I do in Tampa – just in a new home.

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