My first trip to France was a very unique experience. It’s unlikely I would have had the same experience anywhere else. The entire experience, I mean everyone, everything, everywhere, was great. My first visit to France can only be summed up as fantastic and I can truly say Paris is a city of romance.
Before Heading to France
The program I was lucky enough to have been chosen for was offered by Paris Dauphine University. Dauphine University is one of the best business schools in the world. It is especially known for culture management. The university invited a certain number of applicants to France and they were to enroll in an intensive course on culture management. Honestly, before being accepted to the program, I was worried about my level of French language both verbally and written. Luckily, against applicants much more proficient in the French language, I was chosen to participate in the program. Still, I feared my proficiency in French might cause issues, but contrary to my fears, I could complete this program succeeded thanks to my professor and friends, and I could travel wonderful Paris.
At Dauphine, I took a variety of classes on culture management. All subjects were conducted by experts in their field. The first course I took was on French cultural policy. The professor lectured us on the history of French cultural policy chronologically. Fortunately, the course content was similar to that of an Sookmyung Women’s University course entitled French Culture Study, so I understood the content easily. It was interesting to learn about French history in France. It will be a memory that I will cherish. My second course focused on the culture industry. The professor insisted it be a solely French-environment course, so there was no translation of content given to students. Although it was taught completely in French, the professor showed us many videos, images, and other reference material, so I was able to understand the content. Although many people know France is famous for culture, very few know what is meant exactly by “French culture”. The professor talked about typical ideas of culture as well as today’s cultural industry and the use of high-tech technology. The third course I had to take was on cultural diplomacy. The professor for this course presented a lot of practical content, so students were able to see examples from nations like China, the U.S. and Korea along with those of France. I felt very proud to be Korean when I heard the professor mention during class that he uses examples from Korea because although Korea is a small nation, it offers the world excellent unique examples of culture. My next course was about the culture of mecenat. I’d heard the word ‘mecenat’ at Sookmyung Women’s Uinversity in one of my French culture courses, but I never really understood the difference between mecenat and sponsorship at that time. However, after completing the course lectured by an instructor who had done mecenat work at Opera Garnier, I came to fully grasp it. The instructor was thorough in his explanation of what mecenat involved and the tasks he did. Briefly, sponsorship involves the collection of funds through promotions of a company or product advertising, but mecenat does not include advertising. My last course dealt with cultural policy and how to respond to a rapidly changing society. I also learnt about France’s response to change as well. Because the course often looked at statistical data, it was easy to comprehend.
Variety in Coursework
Along with listening to lectures, we visited a number of cultural sites with the professors of Dauphine and learnt outside the classroom. For example, at Opera Garnier, whereas other visitors were only given audio guides, we had access to vivid and more detailed explanation directly from experts and the professor. Also, at a French broadcasting station, we were treated to lunch in the cafeteria. It will be forever memorable because few people have the chance to visit the station and even fewer are invited to stay for lunch in the cafeteria. Furthermore, Daniel, an employee at the station, gave us a personal tour of the broadcasting recording studio. At Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is a museum founded by Louis-Vitton we were given the chance to enter before opening hours and a Korean docent provided information on all the pieces. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much time to look about Orsay Museum, but we did listen to an amazing speech from the director of the museum in a private room. It was a wonderful opportunity to view in person some of the artwork by impressionist painters. Comedy Française gave us a wonderful chance to go on stage to find the traces of Moliere and to speak with the play’s actors and theatre crew. We were free to ask anything and got answers unattainable if we hadn’t had such an opportunity.
I had front row tickets to the Vivaldi Four Seasons concert, and the cathedral, where the concert was held, made the sound even more wonderful. Even though the concert was performed by only five musicians as they sat playing their string instruments, it was the greatest concert I’d ever attended. It was awe-inspiring when the violin soloists stood upright in the middle of a piece. During my free time, I traveled with friends to various tourist attractions that I’d only seen pictures and videos of before going to France such as Triumphal Arch.
The Eiffel Tower is much bigger than I’d imagined, and I enjoyed a picnic there in the park area in front of the tower. At the Palace of Versailles, I felt the luxurious lifestyles and vanity of nobles that once lived there. It also had a lovely garden and large buildings that were well worth my visit there. It was a marvelous experience to sit on a bench in the garden and rest, overlooking the fantastic view of Paris. The best things about my time in France were walking the streets of Paris alone and enjoying all the wonderful food. The food served at restaurants was delicious, but it was also nice to simply drop by an outdoor market and grab some food there as takeaway to try later.
In France, I sometimes lost my way, but it was exciting and fun. If my French proficiency had been slightly better, I’m sure the experience would have been even better. Still, it was fabulous. The next time, hopefully there is a next time, I will be able to speak French better and as such move about France more easily.