Jean Laguerre (he/him) - Stanford in Paris
Major: Computer Science
College year while abroad: Senior
About the photo: We took this picture on a boat as we were in Bretagne. It was such a good way to get our mind off any academic material before final week. I remember this evening was supposed to be very stormy but instead, out of nowhere, this beautiful rainbow showed itself. And this was right after an amazing day at the beach . S/O Mme Audrey for putting this together.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Paris?
As many might know, Haiti used to be a French colony until 1804. However, despite the independence, a significant amount of cultural aspects were left behind by the colonizers . Thus, growing up in Haiti, I was exposed to a bipolar culture that never ceased to trigger my curiosity. This ambiguity was present in areas ranging from the educational system to day-to-day activities. I have always wondered where exactly these ideologies were coming from but was never able to go back to the main source and explore what the origin had to offer. Thus, when I got to Stanford, I realized that I was at the right place if I really wanted to learn more about French society and its TRUE history. After talking to some advisors, they suggested that I apply for the BOSP program in Paris as it would help me get a better sense of what the real French culture is like. And that is how I ended up applying to study abroad in Paris.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Paris?
Honestly, I went there with a lot of stereotypes in mind. Some were indeed accurate: people really walk in the street with a huge bag of baguettes. But , at the same time, I was shocked to see that some made-up stories were just speculations. Although cheese is indeed the french candy, nobody really talks to you like it was the 17th century. I was honestly worried that I would not be able to understand anyone speaking since I was expecting them to use very complicated phrases and expressions but turns out that they barely care about conjugaison. I was also expecting everyone to be very arrogant and mean, but if you are not always in a rush, you could freely benefit from a private serenade on the “Pont-des-Arts”. So if I had to give some wise advice, it would be to go there with an empty mind and just enjoy it as much as you can.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Paris?
Before going to Paris, I promised to myself that I would not touch anything CS related at all once I got there. And guess what? I really did keep my promise. I ended up taking a bunch of art classes and a Europe history class. In the beginning, I was not expecting to go through with my decision, but surprisingly I ended up liking all of my classes. I learned so much about the EU that I feel like I can deliberately partake in a very intense political debate about the amendment of the Maastricht Treaty. At the same time, now, whenever I walk into a building with a painted ceiling, I can’t stop myself from doing a typological and iconographical analysis of the ceiling. After spending 3 months studying the ceilings of Paris, I have really developed a peculiar taste for painted ceilings.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
My stay in Paris mainly taught me three major things about myself. The first thing is that I don’t really need much to find my happiness. When I was there I realized that a simple life doesn’t necessarily mean a miserable one. The second thing is that I can be a very outgoing and social person without having to put in too much effort. Not having to worry about school that much helped me get in touch with that charismatic version of myself. And the last thing is that I am related to Picasso! You all should see my portfolio after this program. I really started from level 0 and got to Picasso level in just 3-month. Hit me up whenever if you want to see my chef-d’oeuvres from this spring XD. I highly recommend taking art classes if you ever go to Paris.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
One of the biggest challenges of studying abroad is being so far away from your close ones. I had a hard time dealing with this in the first few weeks. However, this made me realize how much you should cherish every moment you get to spend with someone. Don’t ever take it for granted because you never know when you are going to be separated.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
Not eating crepes during dinner time. Trust me it's really hard not eating crepe (savory and sweet) 24/7. The creperies are literally EVERYWHERE. But apparently, eating crepes during dinner time is against French culinary standards XD. So I had to really try my best to avoid them (but still failed).
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Paris?
Lunch time! Because we would usually go restaurant hoping and end up just eating crepes.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Paris?
We had an amazing Bing trip to the Languedoc region in the beginning of the program. I really feel like that was when everyone really started bonding with each other. And for the first time, we could really bond with the staff and get to know them better.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Picassoesque, Crepic, Baguettal, Therapeutic, Fancy
What was your favorite food you had in Paris?
Don't make me say it :) . Of course it's crepe!
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
My soccer cleats
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Paris?
Reine by Dadju