Paris Center Stories: Samantha Seto, MA History and Literature 2019-2020

Samantha Seto will spend 2019-2020 as a student in the MA in History and Literature program. Learn more about her and her plans for this year in Paris.

October 08, 2019

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you do your undergraduate degree?

I am from Washington, District of Columbia in the United States. I live in a row house near Georgetown and within walking distance to the White House. I live with my family. It is also the home of my lovely Russian-blue cat.

I graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in December 2017 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in Writing Seminars (with Honors) and a minor in the History of Art. I am primarily interested in fiction, poetry, memoir, and novels. My writing is published in The Washington Post “letter to the editor,” The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Pleiades, and The Los Angeles Review. As an undergraduate, I wrote articles and took photographs for The Johns Hopkins News-Letter in addition to writing for The Hopkins Dialectic. I have also worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Library of Congress, Duke University TIP, Peace Corps, Folger Shakespeare Library, National Museum of American History, and the U.S. House of Representatives.


Why did you choose the MA HiLi Program? Why Paris?

In Columbia University’s MA in History and Literature Program, I wish to strengthen my research skills, learn about French academia, and have good intellectual exchange while being immersed in French culture. I admire the rich history in France and will attend museums, cathedrals, libraries, and the American Church in Paris. After I earn my master’s degree from this program, I hope to pursue a PhD in Literature.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved Paris. It’s a beautiful city. I visited Paris when I was twelve years old with my family. I don’t remember very much, only that I visited the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles. Yet it was very perfect and lovely. I knew I wanted to visit again one day. As an undergraduate in college, I studied basic French. I learned to read, write, and speak the language. I have also been classically trained as a ballerina during my child to teenage years, in which my ballet instructors used French words like “cou-de-pied,” “pas de bourrée,”  “glissade,” “pas de chat,” “relevé,” “pirouette,” “tendu,” “fouetté,” etc. I am able to finally share my love for French language, culture, and history this year in Paris.

What classes are you taking this year?

At the Université Paris-Sorbonne, I am taking a British literature class. The course is titled “Littérature britannique XIXe-XXIe siècles”. We are reading Foucault, Lacan, Ricoeur, Mary Shelley, Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and more. I love being an American foreign student in the class. My class is at La Maison de la Recherche in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés.


Have you chosen a subject yet for your master's thesis?

My master’s thesis is focused on the female narrator or character in 19th-20th century British and French literature. I will analyze the short stories written by Charles Dickens and Guy de Maupassant.


What are you especially looking forward to doing this year in Paris?

I am most looking forward to embracing French culture, living independently, taking classes at a French university, visiting the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, watching the ballet at L’Opera Garnier, and making new friends.

I also want to travel within France to many cities. And I hope to visit my cousin in the Netherlands and my family in Finland.


Where are you living in Paris and what do you think the city so far?

I live in a studio apartment on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. I love the bakeries, cafés, and flower shops nearby and walking in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s really close to Reid Hall.

I love Paris. It is a dream come true every day. I am blessed to be studying abroad in Europe this year. I am lucky to be able to earn my master’s degree in Paris. I admire the rich French history, literature, and art as well as the cathedrals, universities, musuems, cafés, and more. It is the perfect place to be.