About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Political Science and Public Policy with a minor in French
Program: UNC in Montpellier
Location: Montpellier, France
Term: Fall 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Studying abroad had been a dream of mine since my freshman year of high school. I have been learning French in a classroom for over seven years, so it only made sense for me to take that next step and practice my language skills in a francophone country! My search for a program took place over a span of two months. First, I created a list of everything I wanted to gain from my experience abroad, and I then sought out input from others to see which program would best suit my needs. After talking to a study abroad advisor, my French professors, and students who had already gone abroad, I decided on UNC in Montpellier.
What did you learn about yourself?
My time in France solidified my confidence in my ability to look after myself. Studying abroad is such a rewarding experience, but it also requires a certain level of independence; when I first arrived in Montpellier, I didn’t know if I was capable of thriving in such an unfamiliar place with a different culture, language, and people from which I was accustomed. Little by little, however, I established a routine and learned to feel at ease encountering new challenges and obstacles by myself. The realization that I am perfectly competent to solve most of my own problems emboldened me in France, and it has continued to influence my actions even after returning to Chapel Hill.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One weekend in October I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to Paris with my housemate. We tried to fit as much as possible into our 48 hours in the city; we visited the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, all of the normal tourist spots. On our last day, however, we stumbled on a free concert in the Luxembourg Gardens. We ended up sitting on a park bench, surrounded by fall colors as we peacefully drank our hot chocolates and listened to the orchestra for over an hour. That afternoon was one of the highlights of my time in Paris and my semester as a whole.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Don’t be discouraged if at first your time abroad doesn’t fit into your preconceived notions of what you thought it “should be like.” Everyone has their own unique experience; that’s a good thing! What is most important is that you approach your time abroad with an open mind and a willingness to try new things.
Would you do it again?
Studying abroad has been one of my most positive and enriching experiences so far in college, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Montpellier!
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
I was lucky enough to be able to take some classes abroad that were related to my Political Science major. I theoretically could have taken those very same courses at UNC; the only difference, of course, was that all of my classes abroad were taught in French. While this was certainly a challenge, I also considered it an added bonus. This was the first time I have ever gotten to combine all of my areas of study (Political Science, French, and Public Policy) in such a seamless way.
How do you identify?
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
It isn't impossible to study abroad as a transfer student, but it does require some advanced planning. It's very important that students talk to advisors early on in order to make sure that they take the right classes both before as well as after studying abroad.
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I relied on my host family, my housemate, fellow students in my program, as well as my on-site program director for support throughout the semester.