Preview Students Love Paris, Master the Metro

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 18, 2011

By Michelle Tooker ’07,’10M

All it took was a little juice and some croissants to stave off jet lag and energize first-year students on Preview as part of “Paris and the Revolution of 1789.” Five days in, they’ve mastered the Metro and are discovering the City of Light’s iconic landmarks and best-kept secrets.

On the first night—after a visit to the American Graduate School of International Relations and Diplomacy (AGSIRD), Arcadia’s affiliated campus in Paris, and a tour of Luxembourg Gardens—students were out exploring. Many ventured into Montparnasse to acquaint themselves with the area surrounding the hotel, while others searched for crepes, chocolate and escargot.

John Doherty ’14, Eric Durant ’14 and Laura Haeberle ’14 went a little farther and stumbled upon the Eiffel Tower.

“We saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance and kept walking until we reached it,” says Doherty. “A few minutes after we got to it, the whole tower sparkled. It was amazing.”

As other Preview participants soon learned on their trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it twinkles on the hour after dark.

By day two, the group was ready to ride the Metro and quickly learned how easy it is to demagnetize their tickets. Cell phones, hotel keys, credit cards and iPods are enemies to the tickets and caused handfuls of students to practice their French at the ticket counters. Despite a few minor snafus, which actually helped teach the students how to get around on their own, the Metro is revered by Preview participants.

“We rode the Metro a lot on Sunday so we could get used to it,” says Brittany O’Donnell ’14. “It’s very easy once you start using it and we’re very proud of ourselves for figuring it out so quickly.”

In addition to riding the Metro and gazing at the Eiffel Tower, students met their professor Dr. Anton Koslov for the first time. Previously, they only saw him via Skype during their Friday class. Though it’s been weird for some to get used to seeing him in real life, they’ve enjoyed asking him questions and listening to his insider information about Paris.

“It’s been really nice getting to know the students in person,” says Koslov, who is an Associate Professor at AGSIRD. “It’s much easier to teach them face to face.”

Koslov and Sue Gettlin, Director of University Relations and Web Communications, are leading the academic component of Preview and teaching the group all about the French Revolution. To learn about the Revolution firsthand, students visited sites such as the Conciergerie where they saw Marie Antoinette’s prison cell and the Tulleries.

As part of the course, for which students will earn two credits, participants also must complete a Global Expo project. In their free time, students are hard at work researching, investigating and photographing for this project, which will be showcased during the Global Expo on Friday, April 1, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Jordyn Austin ’14 and Elizabeth Wolf ’14 are studying cake and relating it back to Marie Antoinette. So far, the most interesting cake they’ve sampled was one that looked more like a pretzel—it was covered in what looked like salt,but turned out to be sugar.

O’Donnell, Melissa D’Arcangelo ’14, Ashley John ’14 and Amanda Salerno 14 are studying fashion and photographing everything from wedding dresses to military uniforms and children’s attire to menswear.

Sean Robinson ’14 and James Varley ’14 are surveying Parisian food.

“We’re eating out for every meal and taking pictures of our food,” says Varley.

Other projects include studying Paris’ gardens and Versailles, which the group visited on Tuesday.

“The students are having a fabulous time,” says Gettlin. “They’re really going out there and exploring the city to discover things for themselves.”

Many students are also considering study abroad now that they’ve had the opportunity to test it out.

“I didn’t want to study abroad before Preview,” says O’Donnel. “But now, I definitely want to study abroad somewhere in Europe.”

Others are considering spending an academic year or just a summer abroad. Above all, the students are truly enjoying their opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture.

“Everything about Paris is beautiful—the people, the food all the open spaces,” says Austin. “I love it.”

A special thanks to AGSIRD for graciously providing the much-needed pastries and beverages on the group’s first day in Paris.