From Paris to Nantes

Daniel John Matuch, AB '12, reminisces about spending his fourth year in Paris.

The study of a language can often be a long and tedious journey, a never-ending one you might say, but well worth it when one begins to see the fruits of their labor. Early in my first year, my advisor, Jean Treese, helped me create a schedule that would allow me to double major in Physics and in Romance Languages and Literature (French), and still be able to study abroad in the fall of my fourth year. Whereas physics got the best of me, and I finished with a minor therein, professors such as Robert Morrissey, Daisy Delogu, Alison James, and others helped me make the most of countless wonderful opportunities culminating in my fourth year that was spent in Paris.

I quickly found a home at the Center in Paris and Professor Morrissey later convinced me, and my Dad, that it would be an ideal scenario for me to continue my studies in Paris in the academic year program. I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who helped motivate me along the way, especially to Professor Delogu who served as my B.A. advisor even when she and I both had abnormal, international schedules. Mme Sylvie Garnier of UChicago's Center in Paris and several of my French friends helped turn a grammatically average B.A. paper into something more presentable over the course of the year.

Despite all of the fulfilled stereotypes about the “city of love,” I still deeply missed those ivy-covered buildings and the late night conversations in those dorm-room corridors with the hip, color-coordinated doorframes. Still, I had no trouble finding some favorite spots to call my own in Paris. Each new wave of study abroad students that arrived offered me a new set of friends for me to invite to join me at Avant Comptoir. I also ushered several of my Paris 7 University friends to come and join me at UChicago's homey, yet trendy campus. I had a lot of fun being a go-between in the middle of the two universities. We really hit the jackpot being able to have our Center located right across the street from a sister University and down the street from the left bank of the Seine.

My time studying in Paris finished with a perfectly timed B.A. defense held via Skype on the 7th of May, 2012, my 22nd birthday. My Mom and Dad rallied their energies to support me by attending my defense. One of the few words that my Mom recognized throughout my whole defense was lumière. Such an elegant word! Thank you, Walt Disney. And, thank you, University of Chicago, for a point of departure that helped me transition into my first post-graduate boulot, teaching English at Collège Cacault and Collège Pierre Abélard as part of the Teacher's Assistant Program in France.

The life of the mind has not yet ceased; in a hodge-podge style of jeans, v-neck, and a suit-jacket, I enjoy joining my colleagues at the lunch table or in the salle des profs to sit, chat, and improve our language skills, mine in French and theirs in English. For example, one day, not too long ago, my colleagues and I were sitting in the upper room of the salle des profs at Collège Pierre Abélard discussing Anselm and the parable of the talents when a notorious conseiller principal d’éducation (dean) waltzed into the middle of our discussion and starting doing his best imitation of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” dance.

Amidst the light-hearted laugh-filled moments, I have been the beneficiary of so many providentially kind gestures that may all eventually find their way into my Confessions! I hope to find new and better ways to use my linguistic and interpersonal skills to help others. With the help of many, I transitioned from the French minor to the French major, to successfully writing my B.A. Thesis, Ecce Homo, Jean-Jacques ; Une lecture des Confessions au prisme de l’héritage calviniste de Rousseau, and now beyond.

Keep running right up to the line, my friends!

Endless thanks to all those who cheered me on from near and far, working with me by my side and behind the scenes, especially those who helped give me the tools that I needed to succeed!  À très bientôt!

Text and photo submitted by Daniel John Matuch, Class of 2012.

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