Caitlin Kennedy ’16 in Paris

Studying abroad in Paris was the scariest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I grew up in a tiny town in rural New York even smaller than Clinton. Our “town square” consists of merely a post office and a bank. While I would occasionally take the train into New York City with my parents, I never experienced life in an urban setting until I was 20 years old.

Suffice it to say, Paris, one of the cultural centers of the world, intimidated small town me. From the architecture to the food to the historical sites I had been dying to visit since I was a young girl, I felt overwhelmed by everything the city had to offer. Fortunately, I quickly discovered a new passion that allowed me to transform my initial anxiety into an enthusiastic love for the French city: art.

While I had visited a few museums in NYC as a child, I had never felt so entirely consumed by art as I did in the various Parisian museums I explored. I enrolled in two art history courses for the semester, both of which met once a week in a new museum where we would get a chance to see the works we had discussed that week up close. I fell in love with Monet and Degas and found myself having heated debates with my classmates in French about the use of color by Van Gogh or the distorted proportions of Cézanne’s subjects. My friends and I traveled to Monet’s home in Giverny one weekend and to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam the next, impassioned by every new work of art we saw. I couldn’t believe that I had been so blind to the wonder and importance of art for so long.

When I returned to Hamilton in the spring of my junior year, I was intent on keeping art in my life. While I did not veer away from my current major of comparative literature in favor of art history, I decided to apply for a position at the Wellin Museum as a student docent. My work at the Wellin Museum has been very fulfilling, and I feel very fortunate to work amongst such beautiful works of art on a daily basis. I am very grateful that my time abroad opened so many doors and allowed me to learn new things about myself that have shaped my time at Hamilton and will continue to influence my future.

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