Stella M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Saint Mary's Hall in Texas.

Strolling through the streets of Paris on a cold, damp New Years Day, it remained a challenge to find a café or a local attraction that was open. Many museums, on the contrary, were open, and we soon discovered that this was not a hidden secret. Hundreds of people lined up in a remarkably uniform and orderly fashion at the Louvre, and as my family and I exchanged apprehensive glances, we decided to go another route for the day. So we went to the Centre George Pompidou, a contemporary art museum, where we thought it would be less crowded. No luck. Again, hundreds of people in line, and getting colder by the minute.

These lines seriously did not go away. The next day, we found ourselves drawn to the alluring architecture and art of the Musée d’Orsay. We stood in the chilly air of a winter Paris morning, impatiently awaiting to step into the revolving glass door into the museum. The line was growing larger quite rapidly, people, coming from different countries and continents, and of varying backgrounds, all flocking to see one of the many gems of Paris. I heard complaints in French, uncontainable joy presumably from American art enthusiasts, families talking loudly in Italian, a group of Japanese women chatting, and perhaps Portuguese, the content unknown to me. In spite of the diverse tongues spoken, all of these people stood there and waited for a reason, united together.

I entered through the door, instantly and ironically feeling transported. Prior to being a museum, the building of the Musée d’Orsay served as a train station. We started our visit off with the Picasso exhibit, Bleu et Rose, consisting of works from his blue and rose periods. I felt as if I was traveling through time, discovering Picasso’s unique vision, striking talent, and how, it also related to what was happening on the world stage at that point in history. What brought me back to reality, 2019 in a buzzing small scaled room, was the reactions the art evoked from the people. There were small paragraphs stamped on the wall, written in French, Spanish, and English, however, these words are not what is still engraved in my mind, it is the people standing in front of the works, their mere expressions telling of the impact of a mind poured out on paper. I believe we are all creators and reactors, a concept that is well encompassed in the setting of a museum. I think one of the most important things we can do is listen to each other, moreover, listen to ourselves. I listened, intending to be discreet, to certain interpretations, the voice I fabricated for the artist, and my own heartbeat, beating in tune with the steady flow of visitors.

I could also hear my stomach growling. We headed over to Café Campana, where the fragrant smell of sizzling fresh ingredients hits you around the same time as you are confronted by the bright light of Paris seen through the striking round window, framing a massive clock. As time was passing, I was truly struck by the beauty of this museum that I still feel lucky to have the opportunity to experience it.

I feel that this museum, and countless others, serve as a uniting force that is truly remarkable. We all come for different reasons, all valid. It reminded me of firstly, how immense the world is, and secondly, the connection we have with one another that is often ignored. I don’t recall ever being emotionally affected by a museum in my lifetime before this particular day, and I do think I partly owe this feeling to my SYA experience thus far. My curiosity for the world around me has developed profoundly, and I know it is growing every day. And for this I will always be thankful.

À bientôt!

Stella :)

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  • SYA France
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