The Story of the First Ambassador

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Jennifer Kaplan was the first exchange student to represent her university at Ecole Parsons à Paris in France. “Honest, humorous, and informative” read more about this amazing student and check out her beautiful blog.

Jennifer Kaplan studies graphic design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. We know you’re wondering… the feature photograph of Jennifer was taken on a surprise trip to Normandy.

She was brought to our attention by Rachael Vause, the Coordinator for Study Abroad at the university by sending us the following article: 

The Study Abroad Program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is only a few years old, and its relationship with Ecole Parsons à Paris is even younger. Jennifer Kaplan was UArts’ inaugural exchange student to this institution, and she assumed the role of ambassador with vigor and enthusiasm. Inspired by a blog generated by UArts dance students at La Biennale di Venezia, Jennifer volunteered to document her own study abroad experience in order to inform and entice other students to participate in the exchange program. The blog ( provided a candid chronicle of Jennifer’s adventures in and outside of Paris, including photos of the people, places, and her own artwork. The first of these adventures took Jennifer by storm in the form of Hurricane Irene, delaying her departure from Philadelphia and causing her to miss both the international student and residential life orientations. Jennifer had already displayed a tremendous amount of patience and diligence in navigating the admissions process and had been accepted as a Residential Assistant in Ecole Parsons à Paris’s St. John’s dormitory. Although shaken by this latest setback, Jennifer was able to regroup and channel her feelings into her blog. Honest, humorous, and informative, this resource was featured both on the UArts homepage, weekly newsletter, and Study Abroad Facebook page.

Prior to the start of the fall semester, Jennifer was recommended for the program with reservation, citing brilliance and determination that lacked focus. At the semester’s close, International Office, Summer & Continuing Education Coordinator Carolina Spielmann wrote,

“It was great pleasure to work with The University of the Arts student Jennifer Kaplan. Jennifer was a great addition to our student body and showed a strong commitment to her classes.  She also made the most of her experience while living in Paris.”

Clearly, Jennifer’s experience left a lasting impression, not only on Jennifer as an individual, but on the faculty and students of Ecole Parsons à Paris. Jennifer rose to the challenges of foreign life and the foreign classroom and returned to Philadelphia with a wider perspective of her world and of herself. Since her return she has been asked to speak at both the annual Study Abroad Fair and the International Student Services luncheon at UArts, and has been invited to the Delaware Valley Re-Entry Conference. Jennifer’s journey continues to enrich her artwork and inform her fellow students, and through this conference she will learn process her study abroad experience through sessions on working internationally, volunteer and non-profit opportunities abroad, the fellowship experience and graduate school, international opportunities in and around Philadelphia. Jennifer is truly the finest ambassador for the UArts program, the Ecole Parsons à Paris Exchange, and most importantly, the value of the study abroad experience.

The ISV team read Jennifer’s blog and we picked some of our favorite photos and entries: 

Intro to Paris: Read Jennifer’s tips for first-time travelers

Jennifer's dorm room


September 8, 2011

” I am actually a resident assistant here at the St. John’s dormitory, which I think I have previously mentioned. I have already begun my duties and as such I have met a good many of the residents here and my fellow RA for the building, Ting Zhao. She is a really great and motivated girl from China, studying in Boston.” Continue reading…


One of Jennifer's covers she created in class.

September 29, 2011

“I think I grow a little bit with each passing day. It’s like a sunrise that slowly comes upon you little by little, spreading its light and making you feel warm. The more I learn, the warmer and more comfortable I feel. With myself, with my work, with the situation, with everything really. I’ve had to come face to face with every single thing I don’t like about myself and try to do something about it. If not now, I say to myself, then when? This is why I’m here, there is no better time than the present.” Continue reading…

Unplanned trip to Normandy!




October 14, 2011 “Actually, the surprise is that a took a sudden very unplanned trip to Normandy. I’m pretty exhausted and this will be my excuse for not writing a real entry this week. Have a 70 image gallery from the trip… (I discovered a new button! For easy posting! <3)” Check out her photos!


A new friend = best night ever!

November 7, 2011

“Today I feel better. There are no forced smiles, no feelings of hopelessness or loss. I simply feel like me again for the first time in a long time. I think part of this has to do with being over my sickness and part of it with some self-realizations.” Continue reading…


One thought on “The Story of the First Ambassador

  1. Your story is impressive Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Hope you will be successful in all aspects of your life!

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