Guest Post: How to capture a semester (or 2.5 months) abroad?

July 2, 2020

by apaparis

The following is a guest blog post from Lisa, Spring 2020 Paris participant.

Having been sent home early from a beautiful spring semester in Paris, I’ve found myself returning to this question. Though I am an avid photographer and almost obsessively document my experiences, I usually find myself with thousands of photos (in the case of abroad, 3,000 photos) that I don’t end up doing much with. I love having the photos to look back on and scroll through, yet they never, of course, truly capture the moment in time. They jog my memory, but they are static, unable to replicate the feelings, activities, sounds, and smells associated with the experience. About a year ago I turned to videos, just 1 to 3 seconds long, to attempt to capture these moments more fully. I downloaded an app called 1 Second Everyday, which advertises itself as a video diary, to keep myself in the routine of taking a short video each day and having somewhere to upload it. My hope was to have a final product, like this cluster of short video clips, to portray specific time periods in my life. The videos definitely add depth to reminiscing, giving me the albeit brief essence of the moment: the sounds and the movement of that second in that day. Of course, even this video doesn’t do my time abroad justice; it definitely doesn’t allow for the scent of fresh baguettes being baked on the street of my homestay to waft through your speakers, but it is a taste.


In these 3 minutes, you’ll find yourself going from our amusing orientation in Craon to a weekend getaway in Chamonix, to the concerts and dance performances that APA took us to as part of the cultural immersion program, to Mont St. Michel and Saint Malo, to scenes of my homestay in the 15th arrondissement, to night life in Paris for my 21st birthday party, to day life in Paris perusing museums and long walks around the city, to a whirlwind spring break as I hopped from Scotland to Amsterdam to Copenhagen to Prague, and all the moments in between with friends I made during the semester. For me, watching this video provokes nostalgia, bringing me back to those days across the world, yet also acute longing for the final 2 minutes (or 2 months) that I had planned in Paris and around Europe. Though it evidently didn’t pan out how we all planned, this video is a testament to our APA group’s informal motto: profiter. We definitely took advantage and profiter-ed this semester, and I can only imagine what those final minutes and months would have entailed. Until next time, I’ll watch this video every so often to remind myself of happy days in Paris, always remembering that these 3 minutes only tell part of the story, as nothing can fully replicate lived experience.

Lisa is a rising senior at Amherst College majoring in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies and Studio Art, with a certificate in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice. She’s originally from Boca Raton, FL and loves art, cooking, intersectional feminism, and moelleux aux chocolats.

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