STANFORD, Calif. - Junior Jordan Duval-Smith traveled to Paris, France for the fall quarter as part of the Bing Overseas Studies Program.
Duval-Smith’s family is spread across the world so being abroad was not a new thing for Jordan. She grew up in San Francisco, but her mom’s side of the family is spread out across the globe. She has family in South Africa, London, Paris, Greece and Canada. In fact, while she was studying in Paris she got to see her family there and in London. After her fall quarter was over, she went to South Africa, where she is actually a citizen, before returning to California for the team’s winter training.
“I haven’t been back to South Africa in a while because of school,” said Duval-Smith. “We got to go for Christmas. It was so much fun because it is summer there and my uncle has a house right on the beach.”
She has three cousins, an aunt and uncle and great aunt and uncle in London. She made a point to go and visit them while studying abroad. Stanford also has a Bing program at Oxford so she had a chance to visit with fellow students there as well.
“I got to go up to Oxford and see kids from Stanford who were with that program,” said Duval-Smith. “Their program is different from the one I was in because it was more integrated into Oxford while we had our own Stanford classes. It was fun to see Oxford for the first time. It was gorgeous and everything I imagined it would be.”
One of her favorite places she got to go was Amsterdam. She went with her friend and teammate Alicia Kapjian-Pitt, who was studying in Florence, Italy.
“Being in Amsterdam felt like being in San Francisco where we were both born and raised,” said Duval-Smith. “They have an aesthetic much closer to America. It was diverse and we found their equivalent of Whole Foods. It is modern and they are excited about diversity. It was so much fun.”
Duval-Smith, a science, technology and society major with focus on information technology, media and communications, chose Paris for her study abroad location after she had taken French since she was in high school. Her and her family had always had a love for Paris due to her grandfather coming from French descent.
The classes that Duval-Smith took while in Paris, included a drawing class and a class that discussed the art on ceilings in Paris. She took both classes with her lightweight teammate MacKenzie Crist. The two struggled to understand the French spoken in the drawing class.
“We had no idea what was going on,” said Duval-Smith. “We would look at the person in front of us and copy what they were doing. It was only a problem when we were supposed to draw with our opposite hand. It explained why our drawings looked so much better than everybody else’s.”
The “Ceilings of Paris” class was a favorite of the junior. The class essentially took field trips around Paris to see different 17th century ceilings and discuss them. They also went into the country to see chateaus and the Palace of Versailles, one of the more extravagant buildings for painted ceilings.
“We got to see parts of Paris we normally wouldn’t see,” said Duval-Smith. “Our professor had access to old archives and special rooms cut off from the public. Versailles was breathtaking. I had never seen anything like it.”
Soon after seeing the palace, Duval-Smith watched the movie Marie Antoinette. Part of the movie was filmed at Versailles so Duval-Smith enjoyed having a chance to see some of what she had just seen in the movie.
One of Duval-Smith’s favorite moments from the Paris trip came after dinner one night when Kapjian-Pitt was visiting her. The two were in Marmot and went to see Sacré Coeur, a Roman-Cathloic church on the famous hill.
“We went to go see Sacré Coeur, but it was 9:30 and we weren’t sure if it was still open,” said Duval-Smith. “It was still open and there weren’t a lot of people there so it was very cool.”
In her free time, Duval-Smith and Crist would walk around and explore Paris. Most of the time, they would go to get a snack following class and then walk to a park.
“We had a lot more free time which was different from having our blocks of time set aside for practice, classes and then practice,” said Duval-Smith. “We did a lot of walks. In the last couple of weeks, the Christmas market started so that was great to go to as well.”
Unfortunately for Duval-Smith there wasn’t a chance to get out on the water and do some rowing. The Seine River has a strict policy about the kind of boats allowed on it. However, with all the walking around she was able to stay in good shape.
“We did a lot of walking,” said Duval-Smith. “I had a six-flight walk up to my homestay and another six-flight walk up to school. I also did some running but doing those walks a few times a day was good.”
Being away from rowing for a few months had an impact on Duval-Smith, making her hungry to return to the team.
“I am positive it made us appreciate rowing so much more,” said Duval-Smith. “It is a testament to how great this place is and how much of a rush we were in to get back to rowing and campus. It was a really cool experience but we are excited to be back.”
Duval-Smith’s recap of her study abroad experience is the second of six gostanford.com features that will 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 over the next two weeks for the remaining four stories.