Featured alumna: Jessica Meyers
Architecture and Urbanism Major, Princeton University 2013 / CUPA Spring 2012
When I entered college I knew, based on my experiences in France as a teenager and having had some very encouraging French teachers and professors, that I wanted to study architecture and urbanism in Paris. The real question was finding the right program. Having traveled to Paris before, I wanted my study abroad semester to break with the contained exchange program experience. I wanted to discover for myself the joys and frustrations of an everyday life in the city while I was studying. CUPA was everything that I was looking for; a program that offers a great deal of support but also steps back to allow students the freedom to discover the city independently.
Through CUPA I was able to split my time between architecture classes at ENSAPLV and urban sociology classes at EHESS. At the same time I was translating poetry for a cabaret in Belleville, washing dishes at a restaurant outside of the Louvre, doing odd jobs for an artist in Montparnasse and eventually interning as an assistant archivist at the Pompidou, an internship that is exclusive to CUPA. Looking back, as an undergraduate I needed that full semester to understand a more holistic view of an educational experience. On American campuses it is often encouraged that students fully integrate with campus life from classes to student groups to socializing but that never felt very fulfilling to me. My semester at CUPA showed me ways to balance classes with a life that went beyond the university.
This time also led me to find new ways to integrate my interests in writing, design, architecture, and urbanism. It helped me find work at an architecture firm based in New York and Paris following my undergraduate studies. These experiences are still highly influential to my current work in podcasting, animation, art criticism, and critical cartography. As it turns out, my graduate work in urban planning brings me back again to study Paris and the greater Île-de-France region with fresh eyes.