For my signature project I spent fall semester of 2018 studying abroad in Paris. While abroad, I took courses in French at a French university, the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP) and lived with a French host family. The goal of my project was to improve my French language skills.
Over the course of my project I was challenged in many ways. It was difficult assimilation into a country where I had a limited knowledge of the language and culture, especially because I was on my own, far away from any friends, family, or classmates, for the first time. This forced me to be more confident, open, independent, and accepting of failure.
Living with a French family and learning how to communicate with them was challenging at some points. I had to patient and observant in order to adjust to their different lifestyle. The experience offered a great window into life in another culture, something I wouldn’t have truly been able to understand without having being immersed in it for an extended period of time. My time in the house was also very beneficial to my language acquisition, as it was great way to practice my speaking and to learn more common and colloquial phrases that aren’t always taught in class.
Studying at a French university was also an unexpectedly a new experience for me. The French university system is much different from the U.S., with a lot less technology involved and a bit lacking in organization. This required me to be more flexible and willing to ‘go with the flow,’ as you could not expect as much structure from French courses as you would typically expect here at OSU. For example, no French courses offer any form of syllabus of course plan, and professors do not always announce things like
grading system or even exam dates ahead of time.
One of the most beneficial parts of my time in Paris was the ability to explore the city and make it my home. I became a regular at a boulangerie near my school, where I would get lunch everyday between classes. I learned to easily navigate the city without using Google Maps, and even gave directions to tourists on many occasions. I frequented museums and other cultural sites, and was able to experience first hand French culture and lifestyle. I had classes at the Opera and the Louvre, the largest art museum in the world, and even had the opportunity to give a presentation, in French, at the Louvre.
I also had the opportunity to take many weekend trips to other parts of France and nearby countries. I traveled to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, and many parts of Switzerland. I saw the beaches of Normandy and the South of France, and swam in the Mediterranean for the first time. On many of those occasions, I was traveling by myself. I needed to be resourceful and adventurous to find my way around countries where I didn’t speak the language and have the confidence to explore on my
Overall, this project was a great period of growth for me. It had made me more confident, independent, and open to new experiences, all of which will help me moving forward. My French language skills have improved massively, allowing me to complete my minor in French, which compliments my International Studies major. I am not entirely certain yet what career path I plan to pursue after graduation, but I am certain that this skill set will make me a better candidate for any job and will make me a better individual in all other aspects of my life.