Profile: Neeti Kulkarni '21
Major/minor: Economics and Music with a minor in French
Study abroad program: Sarah Lawrence/Paris (Fall 2019)
Reason you chose this program: Sarah Lawrence offered me the chance to take classes that improved upon my French grammar and knowledge of culture, while also studying at a music conservatory, giving me a chance to really focus on music for a semester.
Favorite class: Viola lessons under renowned violist Bruno Pasquier, and a class focusing on French immigration and the experience of minorities.
Housing situation: I lived at the Cité Universitaire at the Fondation des États-Unis. I lived specifically on a floor for artists-in-residence, so it gave me a great taste of the music culture in France.
How your identity played into your time abroad: My parents come from India, but I do not look Indian (more ethnically ambiguous). People in France are much more open to asking you on the street where you are from and it is not done in a malicious manner. A Moroccan man once asked me because he thought I was also Moroccan. I am also vegetarian, which could be a challenge with traditional French cuisine, but Paris is very much a cosmopolitan city, so I spent a lot of time at Italian and Thai restaurants, where there are more options for me. I also cooked a lot, which showed me the best parts of France were the fresh produce and bread that I could easily make a meal out of every day.
How you incorporated your Brandeis major into your abroad experience: I am a music major at Brandeis with a concentration in viola performance, but since Brandeis is not a conservatory, I looked to this program as a new way to challenge and push myself further in my music education.
Favorite memory: I was lucky enough to live with artists putting on a show in a gallery. I attended the opening in a gallery, a very swanky soirée with wine and live performances. After the event was over, I decided to walk to meet my friend for dinner. The holiday lights had just come up and I was walking by the most wonderful boutiques with nobody on the streets. My friend and I ended up at a warm crêpe café and we spent hours there just talking. It was one of the most delightfully French experiences that I was lucky enough to have.
Greatest challenge: I was living very independently for the first time, and with people much older than me (since the Cité primarily houses Masters students) and I had to put myself out there to make friends. It was hard and uncomfortable A LOT, but I did come out knowing some amazing people.
What you know now that you didn't know before: I can live on my own successfully and speaking another language constantly is not so hard.
Fact about France that you think people would be surprised to learn: France is a big place, so while cities for Paris are known for their snobbery, I found the south of France to be extremely friendly, and the Alsace region to be very open as well.
“Sarah Lawrence offered me the chance to take classes that improved upon my French grammar and knowledge of culture, while also studying at a music conservatory, giving me a chance to really focus on music for a semester.”
Neeti Kulkarni '21