About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Double Majoring in Public Policy (concentration in Education) & French Language with a prospective minor in Entrepreneurship
Program: UNC in Montpellier
Location: Montpellier, France
Term: Spring 2020
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Prior to college, I had limited international travel experience, and I knew coming into university that I really wanted a chance to expand my horizons in the context of other cultures. Once I started studying the French language in late middle school, I dreamed of one day getting to study abroad in a francophone country and better develop my speaking skills and comprehension ability. As I grew more confident in my comprehension and passion for better understanding French culture, I decided to try to find an opportunity to study in France, itself, and the UNC in Montpellier fit the bill of what I was looking for! I really wanted a chance to do a home-stay that would both push me out of my comfort zone and really catalyze my language development. I was also hoping to visit Paris, but study in a different region, in order to get a better sense of the regional differences in French culture and honestly just have more opportunity for exploration. Several other friends spoke highly of the program and as it offered me so many items on my mental checklist, i decided to go for it!
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned a lot throughout my 2-month stint in Montpellier, but two of the most memorable aspects of self-growth throughout this time were a development of emotional and physical independence and an ability to adapt to various changing circumstances. While the physical independence is bound to come with any solo travel experience, as an extrovert, being in a place where I knew absolutely no one from the get-go was a challenge that pushed me to grow in my social and emotional independence. I learned to appreciate being on my own, rather than relying on those around me to make an adventure fun. Additionally, thanks to COVID-19 and just the general nature of adapting to a new culture, I grew more comfortable with change and instability and developed an appreciation for the approach of taking life day by day.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories of the program took place on a Wednesday night in early March at la Panacee (a local art museum). After visiting the museum as a part of my Contemporary Art History class, I loved the ambiance it provided and knew I wanted to spend more time there. A few other classmates and I discovered that the museum held weekly jazz nights in their outdoor courtyard, and this particular week, decided to attend. I wound up sitting and chatting with a mix of French and American students for hours under twinkly lights and a starlit sky, as jazz music softly wafted in and out of our conversation. I remember that being one of the first times I felt truly comfortable and confident speaking French with native French speakers and look back on it as a huge moment of progress for my personal language development.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Firstly, you will get through it. Uncertainties are rarely desired and often overwhelming, but you have the capacity to conquer them with a little bit of patience, grit, and optimism. Secondly, don't run away from the uncertainties and elements of discomfort: dive in and I promise you will learn and grow so much.
How do you identify?
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?