After living in Paris for seven months to study abroad and intern, I consider it a second home. As a result, I was thrilled to learn that Connecticut College would provide me with the opportunity to return to the city over winter break. Through The Center of International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), I received a travel grant to conduct research for my senior honors thesis. My thesis examines representations of fallen women and prostitutes in 19th century English and French literature and visual art. I applied for the grant to visit an exhibit at Paris’ famous Musée d’Orsay, a treasure box of 19th century French art. The exhibit I was interested in focused on representations of prostitution in 19th century visual art.
The exhibit, Splendor and Misery of Prostitution, exceeded my expectations. It contained quotes about prostitution from famous writers, such as Honoré de Balzac and Emile Zola. It also presented visual art portraying various types of prostitutes—from working class streetwalkers to wealthy courtisanes who flaunted themselves at l’Opéra. Not only did the exhibit present realistic representations of women, it also portrayed fantastical images of them. For example, several paintings presented prostitutes as demons threatening male power. This resonated with the novel I am studying, Nana. Before I left the exhibit, I bought the catalog, which contains critical analyses of the artwork and articles on the history of prostitution in Paris. The exhibit will certainly benefit my thesis.
I remember where I was when my Grandma died, but not how I grieved. I was young at the time and struggled to understand what it meant to grieve. Death is part of life and learning to accept that aspect of human experience is a lifelong journey. College is a place to learn, so I decided I would explore the concept of grief at Conn, a safe place. It’s also a place where those who ask for help will receive it.
When I was looking at schools, one of the things that excited me most about Connecticut College was the fact that the College’s music program offers free lessons. Last year, I investigated this opportunity but didn’t end up taking advantage of it because of scheduling conflicts. Given how busy I’ve been this year, I did not plan to inquire about the music lessons again.
I have a good musical ear, and I’ve done well teaching myself how to play instruments and read music. I also have my guitar on campus and access to the school’s pianos, so I figured that was enough to satisfy my passion for music. I wasn’t capitalizing on lessons, sure, but I was given access to a practice room and a full piano—two things I don’t have at home. It was still a win.
As an art minor, I might as well live under one of the easels in Cummings, our music and arts center. One day, I found myself there with some time to kill, so I figured I'd ask about the music lessons. To my surprise, everything fell into place. The same scheduling issues came up, but I may or may not have found some loopholes to get past the problem.
There’s nothing quite like an impromptu photo shoot to ease your mind, I think to myself as I grab my camera bag and dash across campus.
These sorts of excursions have become relatively commonplace ever since I splurged on a new DSLR camera this past November. Photography—and art in general, I suppose—have always been cathartic outlets for me during good times and bad. This holds true in college: I savor every opportunity to take photos or doodle in the margins of my notes when inspiration strikes, even if it’s slightly inconvenient. After all, when you feel completely overwhelmed by deadlines, assignments, commitments and social drama, sometimes you just need to indulge in a beloved hobby to stay sane.
With the start of a new year, I would like to reflect on 2015. The year flew by faster than most because I traveled to various locations. Through a program conducted by Middlebury College, I studied in Paris from January to May. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to visit other countries in the European Union. For the summer, I remained in Paris to intern at a human rights organization. I then returned to the U.S. for senior year.