I participated in the Ohio State sponsored Summer French Program at L’Université Laval in Quebec City this July. It was a six week French immersion program worth six credit hours in which participants receive rigorous daily instruction in language, literature and culture and were expected to speak French at all times.
I have lived in the Midwest my entire life and before this summer had never traveled abroad. I was thrilled to have be accepted into a program to study French for six weeks at Laval University in Quebec City. I was counting down the days until I left! My participation in Laval University’s summer French program had an enormous impact on the way I view the world. People from all over the world came to participate in Laval University’s Summer French Program. I met other students from Germany, Switzerland, India, China, Mexico, Iran, Russia and Uruguay. It was eye-opening to me to learn about the outlooks other countries have on current issues such as universal issues such as gun control, religious liberty, and LGBTQ rights. It was refreshing and fascinating to learn about their different perspectives.
In Quebec, I went the furthest out of my comfort zone that I have ever been. I learned that I am up to whatever challenge life might throw at me. Quebec taught me to stand on my own but it also showed me the value in putting your trust in other people. One of my favorite things to do in Quebec was to visit used book stores. It is safe to say that I explored over a dozen used book stores, which are called “librairies.” I love to read and rather than buying souvenirs I bought dozens of novels written by Quebecois authors. My carry-on bag on the flight home was basically a mobile library. Whenever I visited these bookstores, I made an effort to ask any employees I could find for a book recommendation. I found this to be a great conversation starter and through these conversations I not only had an opportunity to practice my French but also to learn more about Quebec from an insider’s perspective. These conversations were some of my most valuable experiences in Quebec because of the personal connections I made with strangers from another culture.
Besides starting conversation with bookstore employees, another way I got out of my comfort zone in Quebec was to go on as many excursions as I could with peer leaders from Laval University. Many of these excursions involved extreme outdoor activities. I am not a particularly outdoorsy person but through my experience in Quebec I have a newfound interest in hiking. I was struck by the beauty of the mountains and forests surrounding Quebec City, and so I took every opportunity I could to explore the national parks in Quebec on excursions offered by the program. I got very far out of my comfort zone almost every weekend on these hiking, rafting, and rock climbing excursions. I gained new confidence in myself from these excursions and learned that I really enjoy exploring the outdoors. Now, I want to explore more state parks in Ohio and learn to appreciate the opportunities I have in my own backyard.
My participation in the Laval University Sumer French Program will not only help me accomplish my lifelong dream of being fluent in French, but it will also prepare me for success in my professional life. As a participant in this program, I refined my communication skills, cultural awareness, and critical thinking abilities, all of which are essential to being a medical professional.
My participation in the Summer French Program was an excellent opportunity for me to grow socially and to diversify my world view. The cultural exposure and the new perspectives I encountered in this program has prepared me for success in my professional life, since doctors must be able to empathize with and be culturally sensitive towards their patients.
The Summer French Program at Laval University will also help me in my professional life because it will enable me to communicate with other medical professionals from around the world. International collaboration is an integral element of modern medical research. Knowing how to speak multiple languages would assist my ability to work with researchers from many nations on important medical studies. Speaking French would also be particularly useful because I hope to one day volunteer with the French non-for-profit Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders). I am very passionate about improving the lives of people living with chronic illnesses, especially in countries where healthcare is unreliable and inaccessible. Many French speaking West African nations face this enormous healthcare challenge and I hope to be pursue my passion for serving others by putting my medical and French expertise to use in this region. Laval University’s Summer French program offered an excellent opportunity to enhance these abilities that will be very useful in my future interactions with both patients and colleagues.