Reading & Writing: James Baldwin in Paris | Jacquelyn Greenfield


Studying abroad in Paris France this summer has definitely made an impact on my life. I like to think of Paris as a second home now, and I can’t wait to go back. Being able to read and be inspired by James Baldwin in the city that helped him grow as a writer, has helped me better my craft and inspire me to want to write more outside of journalism. Working and being inspired by other Lang students has helped me realize how much I actually love going to Lang as well as understanding that my peers and I share like minded opinions.


I spent the last six weeks without air conditioning. I thought I was going to die. I thought I made a huge mistake by leaving my family and friends back home to die in the heat. I experienced two heat waves and got locked out of my apartment on my second night. But that was the worst of it. Yet still, the last six weeks were the most fun I’ve had in my three years of college thus far.

Being able to study abroad in Paris with the Lang Reading & Writing: James Baldwin Program, I made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I was able to gain the true college experience of having roommates, living on my own, and learning how to take care of myself. I’m a commuter student, who lives at home, and I’ve always regretted that decision and felt I wasn’t able to gain a true college experience by dorming because I couldn’t afford to. This opportunity helped me to gain that experience and expose me to another way of living.  

This experience helped my writing in ways that I didn’t know were possible. The distance of being away from home helped me write about experiences in my life that I struggled with for a very long time. I was inspired by the city of Paris as well as its culture. Paris helped mold a new way of thinking about race, gender, identity, and the relationships I have back home. I was able to receive different opinions and thoughts from my peers that helped me grow as a writer and a person.

I was able to travel to the South of France and swim in the Mediterranean Sea with my class, enjoy Paris’s nightlife, and watch France bring home their second World Cup championship in twenty years. I turned 21 while I was in Paris, and my mother, who went to Paris for the first time when she was 16 and never went back since, came to visit me. It was definitely the best birthday I’ve had. I was able to show my mother how much Paris has changed over the past 30+ years and experience the Louvre with her. We made it our mission to go to all 20 arrondissements and try different macaroons and French street foods. This  was all possible thanks to the Eugene Lang Opportunity Award. I was genuinely able to enjoy my trip and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to worry about if I could afford to do something. The ELOA has helped make this trip possible and has given me one of the best summers to date that I will cherish for a very long time.

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