January Scholars 2020

Over IAP 2020, six MIT students discovered "Spectacular Paris" with Professor Catherine Clark

The January Scholars Program allows the best students from MIT's French program to experience two weeks of linguistic and cultural immersion in the French capital. It is an award made possible by the French Initiatives Endowment Fund. 

Like every year, students on JSF2020 enjoyed a full program of visits, tours, and conferences. They learned about the history of spectacles in Paris from the theater to more ephemeral manifestations such as the annual military parade on July 14th down the Champs Elysées. They also explored how the city itself, its streets and parks offer up visual spectacles, learning about graffiti art and culture, street photography, and the dazzling displays of consumer goods for which Paris is known. They experienced the world of Parisian entertainment firsthand at the Cirque Romanès, the Philharmonie de Paris, a contemporary danse performance, and in the squares and on sidewalks all over the city!

While this year's focus was on the spectacular, the group also took time to explore the Parisian everyday. They ate at excellent cafés and restaurants, became connoisseurs of the crème brûlée, and spent one morning at a typical Parisian open-air market where they purchased food for a homemade lunch. 

JSF2020 offered students a special challenge, for it was the first time a January Scholars group has been in Paris during major transit strikes. The strikes that began on December 5 (in protest of reforms to the national pension system) lasted through the trip. Students quickly learned about the famous French "Système D" as they navigated their way through a city with no metro and buses that looked more like sardine tins than viable public transit options. They gamely walked many many miles (well fueled by the regular consumption of pains au chocolat). 

In short, the January Scholars 2020 was a rousing success! A true spectacle of learning, eating, and enjoyment! 

More about our dailiy actiives is available on our Instagram

Many thanks to all of the people in Cambridge and Paris who made our program possible!