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Profile: Awesome--Jami Watson

Jami Watson Reflects on Year in Paris
June 5, 2019

Perhaps the first thing we think of when we think about Paris right now is the recent fire at Notre Dame. Jami Watson, an MA student in French at the U of MN, was studying in Paris during the last academic year. She said that the experience of being in Paris when the fire broke out was “surreal to witness in person.”

Watson was in Paris as part of the UMN’s French department academic year exchange with the Université Paris Diderot (Paris VI) where she taught English conversation courses. Also awarded a FLAS (Foreign Language Area Studies) fellowship through the Institute of Global Studies, Watson took Japanese language and civilization courses while focusing her research on Japonisme (the connections between Japanese and Western art and culture).


Watson said that going abroad offered her “the chance to partake in a huge ongoing Japonismes festival in 2018 that gave me the opportunity to attend events and see so much art that I would’ve missed had I gone a different year.”

In addition to writing an art exposition review entitled “Japon-Japonismes, Objets inspirés, 1867-2018 at the Musée des arts décoratifs,” appearing in the next issue (5.1) of the Journal of Japonisme, Watson also presented papers on literary Japonisme at the 17th Annual Society of Dix-Neuviémistes conference in Southampton, England and the Mutual Images Research Association Conference in Vigo, Spain.

On Studying Abroad

When asked about advice for other students considering study abroad, Watson encouraged her fellow students to go for it. She said

“There’s no such thing as ‘good timing.’ Going abroad for the year ended up being the best decision. I’ve gotten a lot of experience living, working, and studying abroad.”

All study abroad experiences are different from expectations in some way. Asked about this, Watson said “The entire experience of living in Paris surprised me. Although I visited Paris during my undergraduate study abroad experience, I didn’t realize how extremely diverse Paris is as a major city. Being in Paris has given me the chance to gain more Francophone cultural capital while also exploring the interaction and mix of other cultures.”

Practical Advice

On the specifically practical side of studying in France, Watson had two suggestions. First, she suggested “taking advantage of the TGV (train) and getting a ‘Carte Jeune’ or a pass used to get discount train tickets, I traveled to other cities in France I had never been such as Bordeaux, Toulouse, Avignon, and Dijon.” One of her favorite memories was when she “went to Bordeaux for a weekend with a friend and had lunch at a very typical café, but I had the most amazing salad accompanied with a great people-watching view and a great friend.” Study abroad offers time for studying, clearly, but the connections you make as you explore a new country are incredibly important too.

Second, Watson pointed out that “with the long stay visa students under age 26 can get into a lot of museums/exhibits for free” and this lets you “take advantage of reduced rates which is great because you can go to big museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay for free, plus a lot of smaller museums also acknowledge it and will give you a free ticket.”


The combination of wonderful academic experiences with exploring the country and culture meant that Watson had a memorable, enriching experience in France last year. All in all, Watson emphasized that

“Everything will fall into place if you trust your path.”