Julia Duncan

JULIA DUNCAN - STUDENT PROFILE | bospparissa@lists.stanford.edu

Stanford in Paris, Spring 2015-16
Major: Bioengineering
Minor: Management Science & Engineering
College year while abroad: Sophomore
About the photo: One of the coolest parts of Stanford in Paris is that they give you a Carte Jeune for the Louvre, giving you unlimited access to the museum for the duration of your stay. I firmly believe the best way to explore this enormous museum is in frequent, bite sized pieces. Find yourself in the neighborhood, pop in to see a few rooms, and leave before the crowds annoy you. Highly recommend tasting mustard at the Maille Mustard store in the basement shopping center of the Louvre!


Why did you choose to study abroad in Paris?

I have always been drawn to Paris by a combination of my love for the French language and the cultural abundance found there. Also, French food. Paris has such a rich history that I knew the city and my experiences there would greatly enhance my studies. Also, French food.

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Paris?

I went into the quarter without specific expectations other than that I would have an amazing time- the only disappointment was the weather (Paris is surprisingly rainy)! I highly recommend going into the quarter without preconceived notions and let the wonders of foreign cultures shape your quarter! Expect to be surprised by the subtle differences and have an open mind to the bigger differences.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Paris?

Paris has so many museums and historically significant locations that no matter what courses you take, your learning will be tangibly reflected in the city around you. Whether you study architecture, medieval art, or the Lost Generation, you will find traces, examples, and notable footprints of your in-class studies in your extra-curricular environement.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

I learned that it is difficult for me to stick to a schedule when I’m not around other students! I had to be very strict with myself to schedule my days with class, study time, food times, and other things I wanted to see in Paris to avoid wasting my limited time in the most beautiful city in the world.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?

For the first few weeks I feverishly tried to see everything I could in Paris and got tired really quickly- I am a person who needs down time and I wasn’t giving myself time to relax. I learned that to be happy in Paris, I couldn’t let myself feel guilty for watching a movie alone instead of going to a museum. Self-care is important, especially while abroad!

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

Paris is historically and currently a very Catholic country, so it was a big adjustment coming from the Stanford campus. French politics and culture are much more influenced by religion than those of the US, so it was an adjustment to realize that my values did not have to reconcile with the values of where I studied. 

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Paris?

I love the café culture in Paris and the ability to get coffee/pastry/food at any hour of the day.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Paris?

The most memorable experience I had was when my friends and I accidentally exited the metro into the middle of a large protest with lots of police in riot gear. My host mom later told me that was a truly Parisian experience!

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?

Enriching, delicious, edifying, novel, refreshing

Fun Questions:

What was your favorite food you had in Paris?

In Paris, it’s impossible to have a singular favorite food. If forced to choose a top three (still a difficult task) I would say my favorite foods would include artisanal chocolates, unpasteurized cheese, and all the varieties of mustard available.

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?

Walking shoes! I knew every-day-attire in Paris would be more upscale than at Stanford so I brought lots of nicer footwear, but Paris is a walking city and I often defaulted to my trusty sneakers for the long days on my feet.

What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Paris?

The French listen to a lot of similar stuff as we do, but I was always very charmed by the accordion players on the metro.