"Studying abroad is not cheap, but it was worth the price tag. Every day was a new experience."
Joel Fluette, an Environmental Studies undergraduate student, reminisced about his two weeks in Paris in the summer of 2018. "There was an emphasis on living like a local. One day, we took a community walk through a largely African-American immigrant neighborhood. It was interesting to move from one part of the city to another and see all the different identities that coexist. It reminded me of San José."
Fluette joined Dr. Dan Nathan-Roberts for a Faculty-Led Program, a condensed and intensive area studies course in the fabled City of Lights. During the 2-week program, called "Culture Through Science & Innovation," students studied engineering by baking macarons (french macaroons) and learning humidity management, picnicking with entrepreneurial engineers by the Seine, and restoring part of an ancient castle. They even built shelters for a herd of goats who lived on the castle property and cleared foliage from the moat.
Nathan-Roberts created a study program that combined the enjoyment of touring with serious learning. "Our tour of the Louvre focused on how they've integrated VR and cutting edge technology to display, preserve, and learn about art," he said. "They can see through paintings and even see how an artist covered up a mistake, and have created new ways to remove varnish and preserve paintings."
"Even though I’m not an engineering major, there was a lot to learn because the trip was set up to be interdisciplinary," said Fluette. "I learned about the way the city was built and their methods of sustainable development. Their subway system (‘Le Metro’) is amazing, so much easier than BART!"
SJSU students have been visiting the castle in Bordeaux for years. Susie Morris, head of SJSU Global Education and Initiatives said, "In the United States we set out to restore a building and complete the task. But in France, they are there to teach their history and traditional stone-work methods every year. They have no intention of finishing, not as long as students will be coming there to learn. This is not about your latest iPhone - this is deep industry and technology."
Students have remarked that the two weeks in Paris were life-changing. "As a future environmental scientist, it reminded me to be more aware of different cultures and how that can influence things like immigration patterns, community development, and social structure," said Fluette. "Studying abroad is not cheap, but it was worth the price tag. Every day was a new experience."
About the price tag of the summer programs, Morris reminded students, "Coming from this valley, virtually anywhere is less expensive than here."
The next Paris trip is scheduled for June 12-25, 2019. Applications for next summer are now open through October 31st. Check out the Study Abroad Fair on Thursday, September 27th, 10 am - 2 pm in the Student Union Ballroom, where there will also be food and prizes!