Alumni Spotlight: Maddison Paule

Maddison is a student at Denison University, a liberal arts college just outside of Columbus, Ohio. As a junior, she decided to spend the spring semester in Aix-en-Provence. There, she studied art, which was completely out of her comfort zone of the sciences. She attended the Marchutz School of Fine Arts, which is one of the programs offered by th3e Institute for American Universities. She didn't have any previous experience with painting or drawing, but she was able to enroll in those classes at Marchutz to learn and experience them for the first time. Previously, she had taken a few French classes, but she was eager to improve her speaking skills in the host famil that IAU organized in the city of Aix-en-Provence

Why did you decide to study abroad with Marchutz?

Maddison painting en plien air at Mount Sainte Victoire.

Maddison: I decided to study abroad at the Marchutz School because it was a perfect fit for what I was looking in a study abroad experience. I knew that I wanted to go on a studio art centered program, that was open to beginner artists. I also wanted to have a host family, where I could be directly immersed into the language and culture of the country where I was staying. The Marchutz School filled all of my requirements for a study abroad program, and I had heard so many great things about the program through Denison's Off Campus Study Office. I also found it fitting to study art in south of France, where masters such as Van Gogh and Cezanne spent large portions of their lives taking in the beauty of Provence. To me, the Marchutz School was the best opportunity to begin my life as an artist.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Maddison: If I didn't move to Aix for the semester, I would have never met my french mother. A host family does not always mean you're going to be placed in a nuclear family out in the suburbs of the city like I once thought. In fact, families have all different shapes and sizes, and I was placed in a cozy, little apartment in the heart of the old city alone with my new french mother. I would have never had the opportunity to improve my French speaking skills if I didn't have dinner with my host mother on a daily basis. We would sit at our two person table, look out the window, and share conversations, referencing her best friend "Collins" the dictionary if needed.

My host mother took me into her family with open arms. I was invited to family birthday parties and vacation days out in the country, where I got to know her daughter and her family. Those direct experiences with my French family taught me about everyday life in France. In the end, it made it impossible to leave my french mother. Now its the little things that take me back to those moments, like using her recipes or a quick phone call with her to catch up on the latest news in her family and Aix. My life would not be the same if I didn't move to Aix

What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?

Maddison: One of my favorite cities that I visited during my time abroad was Nice, France. I visited this city multiple times while I lived in France because I was continually drawn back to its beauty. The city is full of life and culture as it sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The huge outdoor market is full of the tastes of Provence and the pebble beach is breathtaking. I will never forget the sound of the waves on those small, grey pebbles that line the beach. Nice is definitely more than just nice.

Rooftops of Aix en Provence

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

Maddison: My most meaningful souvenir is my favorite painting of Mount Sainte Victoire. I painted it myself as a part of my courses at the Marchutz School. It means so much to me because it reminds me of all the afternoons that I spent painting outside in Aix. It also reminds me of the growth I experienced while in Aix. Not only is the painting a physical symbol of my growth as a painter, but it reminds me of my personal growth in independence that I experienced while living in the south of France. The painting instantly brings me back to those blue skies and fields of poppies in the face of the beauty of Mount Sainte Victoire, where I spent the spring semester of my junior year of college learning to see with my own eyes as an artist and person.