Cluny Museum: The Birth of Civilization and the Birth of Paris

   The Cluny Museum is a hidden treasure in Paris, having been once a 

monastery this museum has interesting history to trace. 

Walking inside it automatically transports you to another era.

 The Romans baths,gothic sculptures, religious stained glass 

and wood carvings are absolutely unique. Walking around the

 museum, one is able to notice that most of the art revolves 

around religious themes. I think it is obvious that religion 

dominates the museum given that it is concentrated on the 

Cluny order. The Cluny order was not like any other order 

back in the day. The Cluny order was composed of intellectual

 monks who sought God in beauty. The Cluniacs produced 

impressive art in order to discover God. In the Cluny museum

 one can find wooden and stone sculptures. The sculptures 

differ in themes and in artistic traits. Some of the stone 

sculptures were about kings, while wooden sculptures were 


     I preferred the wooden sculptures because they had many details 

and could tell you a story if you paid close attention to 

it. One of my favorite sculptures was one in which the life of 

Jesus Christ is depicted. I was astonished when I realized that

 the sculpture told the story since the annunciation to the 

Virgin Mary to his crucifixion. Another part of the museum I 

really enjoyed was the tapestries. Being in a room surrounded 

by the “Woman and the Unicorn” tapestries was incredible. 

The story behind them is that there is one tapestry for each of

 our 5 senses. The curious thing to think about is that there are

 6 tapestries. Throughout the years, people have come up with

 conclusions about what the sixth tapestry may represent; for

 me it represents love. “À Mon Seul Désir” is a phrase woven in

 the tapestry, to me this phrase means that she is waiting for 

her only true desire in life, which is love.


The Louvre: From Castle to Palace to Museum 

    You can’t go to Paris and not visit the Louvre, THE  most 

extraordinary museum. To be able to enjoy the Louvre you need a lot of

 time, of course it is impossible to visit the whole museum in one day. It

 amazes me how the Louvre has collections from all over the world, 

such as Egyptian, Greek and Roman just to name a few. With a visit to 

the Louvre, people are able to see the rise of civilization from its earliest

 times. Walking through the museum I noticed that sculptures of Greek 

and Roman mythology repeat themselves. People from different 

cultures and times were amazed with the gods and goddesses. It is 

important for us to now the stories of Ancient Mythology in order to 

understand and appreciate this form of art. 

          I believe that in part ancient mythology and current religious 

traditions are the same. People back  in the day used to look up to the

 gods and goddess and respect them, just as people do today with saints.

 Something that amazed me was the amount of people who were infront

 of the Mona Lisa trying to take a picture. I'm not saying that there's 

something wrong about it, but people do not know that just around the

 corner there is another Da Vinci's piece of art. People concentrate so 

much on the Mona Lisa that they feel they have seen everything once 

they have her before their eyes. To be able to see early navigation tools

 is fascinating. It is amazing how people invented those tools and used 

them to explore our world. Without the navigation tools, people 

wouldn’t have gone as far as theydid with exploration and maybe there

would still be undiscovered places. 


The Pantheon: The Enlightenment, the Rise of Science and the Individual

      The French Revolution is the most important period in France’s 

history.  It was a time when people were fed up of the monarchy and 

their laws, that they decided it was time to get rid of them. The powerful

 monarchy who had ruled throughout history collapsed. Old ideas about

 the monarchy, the elite and religious authority were substituted by 

Enlightenment ideals of equality and rights. During the French 

Revolution, the Church was severely criticized by the people. People 

had resentment towards the Church because it had influence over the 

government. The Church did not pay any taxes to the government, but 

it collected a tax from poor people. People wanted to overthrow the 

Church because it discriminated them. I think it is sad how the church 

cared about having money and power rather than helping individuals 

during tough circumstances. Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire 

and Victor Hugo supported the people and reinforced ideals. It was not 

easy to accomplish such success, but with determination and dedication it was possible to have a new nation. 

     The Pantheon is the first monument that is not dedicated to the 

aristocracy or religion. The purpose of the Pantheon is to honor the 

people who supported the idea of the Enlightenment and thus helped 

built a new society and nation. I believe that having this monument is 

very important; it represents the people’s new ideas of wanting to 

accomplish goals that were impossible before. The Pantheon represents

 the rise of the individual, technology and science. The fact that 

Foucault’s pendulum is in display at the Pantheon supports the idea of 

the creation of scientific processes and technology. Foucault’s 

pendulum is scientifically important and used for several reasons. The 

pendulum can be used to provide accurate time keeping, measure 

gravity and demonstrate how the earth spins. This great invention was 

just the beginning of magnificent creations. 


Sacre Coeur/ Montmartre: A Puzzle of Artistic Styles 

       Walking up the hill of Montmartre in order to visit Sacre Coeur is a 

total different experience. I was able to see a different part of Paris that 

feels so unique. Being at a place that has an amazing history makes me 

go back to those days to understand how everything used to be. Once

 you are in front of the church, there are so many things to look at. 

There are details everywhere that it is hard to focus just on some of 

them. While small details may escape your eyes, there are some others

 such as the statues of Christ, Joan of Arc and St. Louis that are 

impossible to ignore. Given that one of the reasons the church was built

 was to commemorate the lost lives of the Franco-Prussian war and of 

the Commune, it is reasonable that a statue of the brave Joan of Arc is 

set before the Basilica. The first thing I noticed when I entered the 

Basilica, was the enormous mosaic. This giant mosaic represents for me

 the greatness of Christ. Looking carefully at it I was able to see The 

Sacred Heart being worshipped by the Virgin Mary, St. Michael the Archangel and Joan of Arc. 

      I support the idea that religion has been commercialized, especially

 in tourist places such as Sacre Coeur. In my opinion, selling souvenirs 

inside a church or charging to enter a specific part of it should not be 

allowed. The church by itself is a concrete evidence of the Commune 

that took place in 1871; it was built as a way of redeeming people’s sins 

which were thought as being the cause of France’s misfortunes. Walking 

around Montmartre gives you that bohemian feeling that still prevails 

in the streets. I could only imagine bohemian artists such as Van Gogh, 

Picasso and Dali roaming around the streets getting inspired to portray 

their feelings in their canvases. Looking at the current artists’ paintings 

do not compare to the classical art I have already seen. Classical art was

 mostly about religious themes, while the art I saw was mostly about 

famous landscapes. I definitely have to go back to Montmartre and 

explore it even more; I would love to visit Dali’s permanent exposition

 as well as Picasso’s first workshop in Paris.


Quai D'Orsay: From Train Station to Museum of Impressionism 

     Impressionism was one of the most important periods in history. 

Although, it was not accepted by the majority of the people at first, it 

was considered offensive and vulgar. Artists no longer had limits, now 

their imaginations could flow with liberty. This period allowed artists to

 paint about their personal interests, feelings and themselves. I believe

 that impressionism was considered offensive for two reasons. To begin

 with, it broke with all classical tradition. Artists now had the option of 

painting different things such as landscapes and not just religious or 

royal themes. Secondly, artists could now embody their own ideas or 

beliefs. In my perspective, people thought it was dangerous because 

artists had an open mind and could influence people’s ideals. 

Impressionism is valued across the globe because it continued growing and led to new ideas in art.

         I think many people consider it a truly creative movement because

 artists broke all types of restraints and could now express themselves 

in any way they wanted. It was a time when people were able to explore

 their surroundings and find who they truly were. The way I interpret 

the fact that critics claimed impressionism was just a fashion and not art

 is that they thought it was a brief movement that sooner or later would

 be over. Given that impressionism was totally different from other

 movements that were considered art, critics believed people would not

 support it enough and eventually would have to end. I suppose that the

 way artists played with colors and movement was not considered 

beautiful art. For many years, people were used to classical paintings in

 which everything was solemn and to suddenly have something so 

radical seemed impossible for them to call it art.


Natural History Museum: The Divide Between Humas and Other Animals

     After visiting museums dedicated to the greatness of human beings, 

it is interesting to visit a museum with a different purpose. Walking 

around the paleontology gallery is amazing! It is incredible how 

insignificant human beings are compared to animals. If human’s body

 structure is complex I can’t find a word that could properly describe 

the complexity of an animal’s body structure. Unfortunately, humans 

have forgotten the importance of animals in our world. Humans have a 

sense of superiority and tend to ignore that we all live in the same 

planet; we have to remember that we depend on animals as much as 

they depend on us to survive. I wouldn’t say that humans are superior 

to animals, to my mind it’s just an advantage. I believe humans have a 

great advantage just simply because we are able to analyze and reason.

 Unfortunately, the majority of the people use that advantage against 

themselves and the world. For me, animals and humans deserve the

 same respect, neither is more important than the other. Our human

 advantage automatically translates to human responsibility towards

 the planet. We are the only specie that is able to take care of our planet

 and ironically we are the ones that have done the most damage to it.

         Defining a human could be a broad definition, given that there are 

many qualities that make us one. Of course the first explanations would 

be our unique physical and psychological traits. I think that being a 

human has a profound meaning that most people have not yet 

discovered. Being a human means to be able to analyze and reason 

situations, suffer and go through inevitable pain which will make us 

understand life a little, pursuit our happiness and help people as much

 as possible. These are just some of my ideas of what being a human is 

about. Myexperience abroad has helped me sharpened by idea of what

 being a human is. I am so grateful of having this opportunity, because

 there is so much of the world to see and learn. I wish leaders of 

powerful countries would travel and coexist for a while with people in 

third world countries, that way they could get a sense of what humanity

 is going through while most people ignore them.



My experience is Paris made me appreciate nature even more than before. Hopefully, humans will soon understand the importance of taking care of our world. People should stop and think about the future, would you like for your sons and daughters not to know what real beauty in nature is? Here is a short video about landscapes to think about the question. 

Eiffel Tower: An Enigmatic Cultural Icon

   The first time I had the Eiffel Tower in front of my eyes, I was astonished. No picture I had ever seen before could compare to a minimum to the amazing wonder I was looking at. I felt excitement running through my body; I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It is incredible how critics in 1889 truly detested it for being made of industrial material. People were not sure whether something made of iron could be called art. In my own point of view, the Eiffel Tower is a majestic piece of architecture. An amazing job has to be done in order to make iron look as beautiful as it looks like in the French icon.

        A month ago, my thoughts about the Eiffel Tower were completely different compared to my thoughts today. It is amazing how much history there is behind it. I admire it primarily because of its history and secondly because of its beauty. The Eiffel Tower represents the world coming together into one whole. In my own perspective, the tower symbolizes the beginning of a new world. A world running with technology and science with people who now have their eyes wide open to new horizons. I believe there are several purposes of visiting the tower. The most important purpose can only be achieved if people are educated about the history of it. It is then when one can truly admire its architecture, the amazing vistas of the city and of course take the memorable picture with it. I find it incredible how many languages one is able to hear while walking around the Eiffel Tower. People from all over the world gather at this point to take a look at this monumental icon. Observing people from every nationality makes me imagine that  the World Fair comes alive every day. 


Romanesque and Gothic Churches: Religious and Cultural Epicenters 

      There are many people who judge something as being ugly 

without really looking deeply into it. The problem with human 

beings nowadays is that they do not look beyond the superficial 

appearance. Religion has taught me that there is beauty in every

single thing surrounding us. In order to appreciate beauty, we have

 to stop looking at things with our human eye and start using our 

spiritual eye. Unfortunately, the modern concept of beauty is 

based on physical and superficial appearances. Thus, creating 

serious psychological problems in people who do not understand

 that beauty is not measured by how they look. If people could 

stop only for a moment they would realize that physical 

appearances do not define a person or the goodness a person has,

 but that real beauty is inside us. Architects in the thirteenth century 

wanted to find beauty by building enormous Gothic Churches. I 

believe that Gothic architecture is defined as “architecture with 

agenda” because architects had numerous ideas they wanted to 

implement at the same time, but had to wait 200 years in order to

 complete their masterpiece. 

     The flying buttresses allowed the church to stand higher and exert

 the weight outwards, thus allowing the ceiling to be lighter. Rose

 windows could now be used, allowing gorgeous light to enter the

 church and give it a celestial feeling.  The gargoyles were wisely used as

 drainpipes and at the same time to give it a mystical aspect. This

 architectural style was the complete opposite to the Romanesque style

 in Saint Germain des Prés. Walking inside Saint Germain des Prés gives

 you a gloomy and mysterious feeling.  The Romanesque style seems so

 simple, there is not much decoration in its thick walls and round

 arches. In the three West portals of Notre Dame the life of the Virgin

 Mary, the Last Judgment and the life of St. Anne are sculpted. These

 magnificent detailed sculptures give the church a beautiful aspect.


Versailles: Royal Extravagance and Paranoia 


      Versailles is all about power and extravagance. We need not to enter

 the castle in order to feel the magnitude and power the King had at the 

time. I was totally amazed with the gardens and I hadn’t yet walked 

inside the castle. Long hallways and high gorgeous painted ceilings 

decorated the palace. With crowds of tourists everywhere it was difficult

 to stop and really appreciate every detail Versailles had. One of the 

rooms that caught my attention was the “Salon of Hercules” which was a

 waiting room for those wishing to see the King. “The Apotheosis of 

Hercules” is painted on the ceiling. With so much space and rooms, I 

believe it’s ironic that the King created another palace to escape from

 the formality of court life and his own obsessive creation. Even though

 the Grand Trianon was supposed to be something small, nothing could

 be simple in the eyes of Louis XIV; his “escape” had to embody the 

gilded cage. 

      Another ironic thing about Versailles is Marie-Antoinette’s estate. It

 is said that Marie-Antoinette loved this place because she could get 

away from Versailles’ extravagance and enjoy the pleasures of simple

 and rural pursuits. This state, as well as the Gran Trianon, is a great 

contradictory to the way royalty behaved. Marie-Antoinette did not 

had any sympathy for peasants, her arrogant personality would 

discriminate anyone that didn’t belonged to her social status. The

 purpose of my visit to Versailles is to understand the way monarchy

 lived and why the French Revolution started. It is amazing how they 

had every luxury and comfort while there were thousands of people 

living in extreme poverty. Once I visited Versailles, I was able to 

understand much better the reasons of the French Revolution. People

 were chained to the monarchy and the monarchy could do whatever

 they pleased with them. Once the monarchy was decrown, people were

 free to express themselves and create a new nation.



National Holiday & National Monuments, Icons of Contradiction 

     The Arc of Triumph is an icon that commemorates France’s loses and 

gains. It is a representation of freedom, abolition of Monarchy and a 

symbol to honor the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their 

country. I believe that people have forgotten what the real meaning of 

this icon is, as evidence there is the 14th of July parade. The parade 

shows off the country’s military power, belief that goes against the 

French Revolution. I think it is odd how French people would celebrate

 with weapons and military armor the fact that they lost many lives 

during the French Revolution. I believe this type of celebration is 

anachronistic. To my mind, the correct thing to do would be to honor 

with respect the people who helped form their country. Although 

Mexicans also have a military parade to celebrate the Independence, it is not the same as the French.

       On September 15, the President of Mexico, as well as every city

 president, comes out of a balcony at a plaza waving the Mexican flag 

and say “Viva Mexico, Viva Hidalgo”. The president continues honoring

 the names of the people who helped gain our Independence, we the 

people repeat what the president says as a way to honor them. In my 

opinion, it is important to celebrate both the Earth and our country. Let

 us not forget that as inhabitants of the planet it is important to pay 

attribute to the Earth. By paying an attribute, I do not refer to the fact of

 creating some type of parade; we are able to honor our planet every 

day by taking care of it. It is essential that people are conscious that we

 are responsible for the damage we create. Celebrating our country is 

not something wrong; the mistake people make is to forget what we 

really should be honoring.


The Rodin Museum: Sculpture on the Move 

     Auguste Rodin is without doubt the father of modern sculpture.

 Looking at his work is simply amazing! No one before him was able to 

create sculptures that could tell a story with just looking at them. It is 

incredible how Rodin’s sculptures are able to portray strong emotions

 and motion at the same time. This is exactly why Rodin’s work is 

modern. Sculptures before him had no emotion; it is difficult to 

understand what the artist is trying to communicate to us. It is 

impressive how when observing Rodin’s work, one is able to figure out

 what a piece of art is trying to convey. I believe that every piece of 

work in Rodin’s Museum uphold the ideals of a Romantic artist. The 

Romantic era focused on emotions, senses and individualism, which is 

exactly what Rodin sculpted in every piece. After seeing paintings at the

 Louvre, which the majority of them pertained to the classical period in

 which religion was the main theme, Rodin’s sculptures aroused my 

admiration; the reason being that I had never seen before something so alive but at the same time frozen in eternity. 

          One of the most interesting pieces of art for me was the Burghers of

 Calais. Standing before this sculpture a sense of pity suddenly invaded 

my body; I couldn’t help but feel compassion for those men walking to 

their death. Their facial and corporal expressions allow you to 

understand and sympathize with their feelings. Another important 

sculpture to acknowledge is Rodin’s walking man. In my opinion, it is an

 absolute exquisite piece of art. It is impossible to compare Giacometti’s

 Walking Man with Rodin’s. Giacometti’s Walking Man gives me a sense 

of stiffness, as if the man is just standing in place. This sculpture is so 

simple, no muscles or sense of movement is sculpted. In contrast, one is

 able to see that Rodin’s Walking Man is on the move. It’s breathtaking 

how every detail is sculpted in the man’s body. The muscles in the legs 

and body posture are the ones that give us the impression that the man

 is walking. Rodin is definitely a genius in sculpture, I dare to say that no

 other artist has ever and will ever compare to him.



Museum of Modern Art: Modernism, Post-Modernism, & Post-Post-Modernism 

   Art is fascinating; when I visited the Pompidou Center I was like a child with a new toy. I have to say that this was one of my favorite museums to visit. It was a total different experience to see modern art. I believe that modern art is truly radical. Things that you wouldn’t expect to be called art were there. It was amazing how some paintings had the power to make me feel different emotions. Some paintings seem so real, if you stared at them for a while it seemed like you had the person in the portrait in front of you. There were some paintings that just dragged me into them and made me feel part of them. I believe that at some point, every type of art is radical. For example, the Romantic Era was considered offensive because it broke away from its Classical roots. For me, all art is avant-garde. As time goes by, artists have become innovative with their work. They push boundaries even further with time. Being able to see the difference between Classical art and Modern art is shocking. I was able to see how far artists have gone and it makes me wonder how far they would get. 

Museum of French Cinema: The Marriage of Art and Technology

Cinema is one of the greatest inventions in life; there is no doubt that it is an exquisite form of art. Technology and modern life has a lot to do with the invention of cinematography. If it wasn’t for the new technology emerging, cinema would have never been possible. Photography, another technology dependent art, had to exist in order to create movies. The first movies were a series of photographs that created movement. With this great invention, artists could now display different scenarios and not be limited to just one thing. In the movie “Modern Times”, the producers use technology such as cameras and microphones to defy technology in the movie which are the video cameras the boss used to communicate with the workers. 

Giverny: Nature and Landscapes and the Future of the Humanities 

     Humans have done so much damage to the world, that we are 

arriving at a point to where our mistakes are irreversible. If humans

 continue killing our planet, sooner or later there will be nothing else we

 could do to save it. It is ironic how we, being the only species able to 

save the world, are the ones who damage it. The problem with people is

 to think that nothing major happens if they decide to litter or pollute an

 area because they are the only ones doing it. The majority of the people

 in the world do not have a minimum idea of how much their actions

 affect our planet. It is necessary for them to become educated so they

 could be able to see the greater scheme in this problem. Most of the 

damage humans have done to the world is irreversible. By saying this, I

 don’t mean that any actions we do to try to amend for it will be in vain.

 On the contrary, people have to awaken and realize that we have no time to waste. 

            It is important for humans to know that we help the Earth be a better place with little actions, such as throwing the trash in its proper place or riding a bicycle. Since I became educated about this problem I have been trying my best to contribute to the solution. The way I help the world is by recycling everything I can. I wish people living in Matamoros and Brownsville were motivated to do this. I believe it is important to inculcate young children about recycling, that way when they grow up it will be something normal for them. I like to teach my 6 year old niece about this and try to keep her involved, so that in a near future she could teach someone else. The experience I've had in this study abroad program has helped me view the world in a different way, it expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to a new world.


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