My project involved studying abroad in France during the 2019 Spring semester. I attended the Institut Catholique de Paris. I took French course work to improve my knowledge and speaking skills of the language. This program will help me obtain my goal of a minor in the French language.
This study abroad was definitely very personally challenging. I went to a foreign country without knowing a single soul. My speaking skills were very average, and I had no idea how to get around or what was in store for me for the next 4 months. I knew I would just have to take every day step by step and figure things out by myself and most of all, be patient. I had to be patient with myself, patient with the new French culture, and patient with the French people that I encountered. I learned to embrace the differences between our cultures and make it more about a learning experience. This helped me learn not only new things about France but also about myself. I was able to experience cultures that were completely different from mine and I gained a new appreciation of all of the differences that exist in the world.
Probably the thing that led to the most transformation in myself were the relationships that I had while in France. The people that I met were definitely the most meaningful part of my journey that will have the longest impact on me. I lived with a host family and was a very interesting experience. I was so very lucky to have such an amazing host family that genuinely cared for me. The family was quite large so it definitely got a little chaotic at times but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
I had an amazing host mom that was always there for me and truly wanted to get to know me. She had five children from the ages of 15 to 25. The oldest daughter also had two kids of her own that were 1 and 2 years old. So there was always something going on at the apartment. Luckily I did have my own room so I go there to relax or have some alone time. I can definitely say I had a “real” french experience and immersed myself into the culture.
Also in the apartment was another exchange student from Switzerland. She was my age and we immediately became best friends. She is someone I am extremely grateful for meeting and I am confident that we will stay friends for life. We did so many things together and she would meet my American friends and then some days I would go out and hang out with her and all her Swiss friends. It was really cool being so close to someone from a different culture because we both got to learn so many new things about each other and about the others culture and way of life.
This project was extremely transformative for me. I am coming back from this semester with a whole new world view. I wouldn’t say I am a completely different person, but I am definitely a better version of myself. I see myself differently, I see others differently, and most importantly my mind thinks differently. I am able to view things from different angles and perspectives to be able to be more open-minded and considerate. I also am close to fluent in the French language and can converse with any French person. I will feel more confident in my future French classes as I am finishing my minor.