STANFORD, Calif. - Junior MacKenzie Crist traveled to Paris, France for the fall quarter as part of the Bing Overseas Studies Program.
One of the most famous cities for its art is Paris, France. The city is home to the Louvre, the world’s largest and most famous museum that houses art. On display is the famous Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci and the Venus de Milo statue. Throughout the city there are displays of art in museums, buildings, schools and architecture. With the history and modern art, Paris was the perfect place for Crist, a Stanford art major, to be for her study abroad experience.
Crist took an art history class that focused on the painted ceilings of 17th century buildings and also took three art classes at a French art school. She wasn’t the only Stanford student in the French art classes, but there were definitely more French students among the 30 individuals in the classes.
“It was a really interesting and immersive experience to be able to compare how the French Art School was compared to how our classes are at Stanford,” said Crist. “I was with the Stanford in Paris program but had opportunities to take classes outside of it as well.”
Crist really enjoyed seeing and learning about the art exhibits in the Louvre, but part of what made her experience was great was having her Stanford lightweight rowing teammate, Jordan Duval-Smith, with her in Paris. The two were both in the ceilings of Paris class.
“It was really fun having Jordan there,” said Crist. “We toured around Paris together and had a couple of girls visit us. It was great for the two of us to bond outside of rowing. We are all good friends, but being together in a different context allowed us to get to know each other even more.”
One of the activities the two of them enjoyed together was going to the Christmas markets on the Champs-Elysees.
“It was all set up with lights,” said Crist. “I had been to Paris before but it was the summer time. This was totally different. The entire stretch had little strands of lights. It was all very Christmasy and very exciting.”
Before she even got to Paris, Crist had essentially already been living abroad. Three weeks before the program started, she went on an urban backpacking trip through Europe. The three went to nine different countries, staying in hostels along the way.
“It felt cliché but in a really fun way,” said Crist. “I went with two of my friends and we had a great time.”
Of course she also had chances to travel on weekends during the fall quarter. The Stanford sponsored trip from the Bing family was to the Alsace region in France. Two of her favorite trips were to Dublin and Barcelona.
Even without her three-week trek through Europe, Crist might have been the most prepared for Paris of anybody in the class. She had been there before and had taken French classes since she was 12 years old. However, studying the language in school and being around people who speak it as a primary language are two different things.
“I am much better on paper than in real life,” said Crist. “The biggest thing was my comprehension skills really improved while I was in Paris. I was nervous at the beginning, but as I got more comfortable I found that I could communicate well.”
Crist had a great time abroad, but wishes she would have been able to take a boat out in Paris. Instead she joined a French gym to stay active while she was there.
“I did some erging and working out, but was bummed I couldn’t get do any rowing,” said Crist. “It was fun to see how French people work out compared to Stanford athletes. People come in full sweat outfits and let their hair down. I was the only one sweating in the gym.”
When she returned to the team, not being able to row for a quarter had made her more excited than ever to get out on the water.
“That first trip out at Winter Training reminded me of why I love rowing,” said Crist. “It was a perfect, glassy water day. The sun was shining and we were doing nice, easy swings. It felt so good to be out there.”
Crist’s recap of her study abroad experience is the fifth of six gostanford.com features that chronicle the experiences of the six juniors on the lightweight rowing team who spent the fall quarter in the Bing Overseas Studies Program. Stay tuned to gostanford.com on Thursday for the final edition of the six-part collection.