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Melissa Hierman

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Exercise and Sport Science; Minors: French, Sports Medicine
Program: Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3
Location: Lyon, France
Term: Spring 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to immerse myself in French culture and language. When selecting my program, I ended up choosing Lyon 3 because of the location, living situation, and the cost. I was looking for an affordable program in a city where I could live with other students, and Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 as an exchange program in a city full of students offered that. I also was looking for language immersion, so an exchange program in France was perfect for taking classes in French with French students to really improve my French comprehension and speaking.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am a lot more capable of handling uncertain and challenging situations than I thought. In my exchange program, I was expected to be a lot more independent and I had to problem solve on my own, but I was able to handle everything and in another language. I've also learned that my home is really wherever the people I love are. Lyon became my home because of the people I met and became best friends with.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program was going to cafés with my friends after class everyday to get coffee and study! It was also a great way to explore the city by going to different cafés all over.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
There are a lot of difficulties while studying abroad, but reach out for help and talk to the people around you early on and you'll find a support system very quickly. There will be plenty of others going through the same thing, and everyone wants to make friends! Talk to other students in class and your professors if you are struggling to keep up in class, too. They will be more than happy to help you!


How do you identify?


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
My identity actually helped me find a really great group of friends. Being able to share my identity with others helped me make close friends very quickly!


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
It is nerve racking to put yourself in a situation where you don't know anyone or know if the people around you are accepting, but you might find that being authentically you is what helps you adapt to the situation and make friends!