My unforgettable trip to Paris – June 1 – June 30, 2014 by Adriana Matallana USF Studio Art

Reflecting back on this amazing experience, I can only say that it was like a dream and I am so grateful to God, my family, my professors and the wonderful friends that I met.

My expectations before the trip were of uncertainty and excitement. I was concerned about the well being of my family and the language barrier. Fortunately, all worked out so well and I had the best time in Paris.

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I was so relieved when I made it safely from the airport to FIE, the studentst residence. Once I joined of the group my fears disappeared and little by little, I became more comfortable riding the metro and moving around the city.

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As I began my classes, activities such as visiting museums, chateaus and cathedrals only added more to my magnificent experience.

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I was also looking forward to participate in history classes that would challenge and enriched my knowledge on this subject. By the end of our classes, I felt the satisfaction of having learned so much in just a month.
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Everything about the trip was just perfect! All the people who participated on this trip were just fun,sweet and loving.

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Some of my favorite moments were being able to attend Mass everyday at Notre Dame and becoming friends with those who saw me there daily. I also loved my roommate who was so patient with my early rises and late nights studying. I tried not to make noise for her but the wooden floors didn’t help.

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As I get ready to my new adventure in London, I give thanks to God for loving me so much. I hope to treasure the friendships that I made and perhaps one day reunite again.

Excursion to Giverny, France - June 20, 2014- By Adriana Matallana

Giverny

For our final excursion, we visited the town were Claude Monet chose as a place of inspiration for his famous paintings and residence.

Located 75 kilometers northwest of Paris, on the border of the Ile-de-France and Normandy. This gorgeous town provided all the elements required by this artistic genius to create his master pieces, such as the inspiring landscapes, the river Seine and the beautiful gardens among many other things.


It is very interesting to visit Monet’s house and the three studios. Since he was a man of good culinary taste, the visitors can appreciate the kitchen as it was in that particular time. The impressive collection of Japanese prints is also a must see.
 
Claude Monet dedicated much of his time to create magnificent gardens which became a work of art itself. From this gardens, he captured ideas for many of his famous paintings such as the Water Lilies series.


Fortunately, after years of the artist death, the garden was restored to its original beauty, allowing the public to experience the beauty of exotic Japanese trees, and a variety of poppies, iris, lupine and other flowers.
I am so glad to be able to witness in person the beauty of this place and I thank again all the wonderful people that contributed to make this trip possible for me.

Excursion to La Roche-Guyon - June 20, 2014- By Adriana Matallana

Excursion to La Roche-Guyon and Giverny - June 20, 2014- By Adriana Matallana

 
 

La Roche-Guyon

We visited this breathtaking chateau which was constructed standing against the chalk cliffduring the 10th century. The chateau is placed at the top of a rocky clif that overlook the beautiful landscape of the river Seine below.

The Lords de la Roche, traditionally named Guy, left their name to the place: La Roche Guyon. In 911, when the Saint Clair treaty was signed, the castle achieved its military function, which was to defend the border. With the confrontation between the Normans and the Francs.
This place came to be known as the Guy’s rock which in future years was used as Nazi’s headquaters. From this point the Battle of Normandy was directed by General Marshall Erwin Rommel.
 

As I descended, I visited the Nazi’s headquaters, which caused me to reflect about the sorrowful situations that might had ocurred in the mist of these dungeons. 



 I also noticed the marks on the walls and could almost hear the people being in that cold, dark and very misterious place.
 


Walking through the beautiful village, I tried to document the beauty of the streets, houses, and a gorgeous Church. I am sure that I will be painting many pictures inspired by this unique place.


La Roche-Guyon was without doubt was one of my favorites sites from my study abroad experience. The view was absolutely breathtaking. I spent about 2 hours in silence, allowing the wind and the magnificient view to provide a memorable moment to meditate on the beautiful creation that surrounded me and give thanks to God for allowing me to experience this amazing trip.
On Sunday we had the most amazing trip to the Maison Raviux where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last ten weeks of life in a gorgeous little town known as Auvers, only thirty kilometers northwest from Paris. During this short period of time, he completed seventy paintings.
Vincent Van Gogh suffered from depression and possibly epilepsy.
He decided to move to this place in search of what he called “medicinal effect.” Being close to Dr. Gachet, who treated him, allowed them to become very close friends.
The room where he lived and died was so small. Only a tiny window on the upper side of the room allowed the light to come in.
The surrounds of this Maison makes you feel like are walking through his paintings.  There flowers, balconies, weat fields and a magnificent church located on one of the town’s hill.
Theo Van Gogh, his brother, supported him not only monetarily but was the one who worked to buy the art materials to send to his brother in Auvers.

Sadly  Van Gogh couldn’t overcome his depression and committed suicide at the age of thirty six . His brother also died only a year later.
Visiting their humble tombs, next to each other made me reflect on what a wonderful team these two brothers were. 
I will never forget this day. It was just so wonderful not only for the places we visited, but because the good friends who shared this experience with me.

Excursion to the cathedral of Chartres in France

June 13, 2014 by Adriana Matallana
This week I experienced the most amazing pilgrimage to the cathedral of Chartres. Located in the heart of Chartres, France.
This spectacular cathedral is the best preserved church in Europe and a masterpiece of medieval architecture.
One of the reasons why it became a major pilgrimage center is because the relic of the cloth that the Virgin Mary supposedly wore when she gave birth to Jesus.
Most of the stain glass of the cathedral dates from the 13th century, surviving two World Wars by heroic authorities who dismantled over 200 square meters and stored the windows panels afterwards.
The labyrinth is another interesting site inside the cathedral. It is carved into the floor located in the rear of the nave. It was designed as a substitute pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Some people choose to do this labyrinth pilgrimage on their knees.



The beautiful town that surrounds this cathedral has a medieval style that captivates the visitors as well as the town’s residents. Another interesting place was the house of a French man named Raymond Isidore, which house was built right in front of the town’s cemetery.
What makes his house really special is that is all decorated as a mosaic with pieces of plates, bottles and many other materials that usually thrown away.
I couldn’t leave this town without climbing hundreds of tiny steps to reach the top of the cathedral’s tower. Once up there, I contemplated the most stunning view of the cathedral itself looking down and the whole town. 

Finally, I decided to walk through the labyrinth that substitutes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in Jerusalem. It took me about thirty minutes from beginning to end. I felt something very special while walking and praying.
I hope to be able to come back to this beautiful town and bring many others with me.

As part of my research project on The Way of St. James, I joined a group of pilgrims on Saturday, May 7th for an 8 kilometers walk from Paris to a small town outside Paris. The group continued their journey for three days, but I had to return to Paris.
It was an experience like not other. Interviewing the walkers and seeing thousands of young people following God was just extraordinary.
I had the impression that the faith among young people in Europe was decreasing, and glad to see the youth on fire for their faith and their believes.
I even interviewed a young man that didn’t have faith in God, who wanted to experience this incredible journey.