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Allene Xing

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Biostatistics Major, French Minor
Program: UNC Biology 449 in Grenoble
Location: Grenoble, France
Term: Summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
One of my favorite pastimes was to stare, transfixed, at the TV every Sunday evening as the hands on the clock slowly crept towards 8. To some, 8 o'clock meant dinnertime or even bedtime, but not to me and my brother. To us, 8 o'clock signaled the start of the Amazing Race, a reality show featuring teams racing around the world. Ever since I was little, I dreamed of traveling around the world. Upon watching the Amazing Race, I vowed that I would one day partake in such an adventure. For me, UNC's countless number of study abroad offers was the perfect opportunity to fulfill my aspirations of embarking on a journey filled with culinary adventures, sightseeing wonders, cultural explorations, and most importantly, self-discovery. As an Asian-American, I was blessed to be able to grow up surrounded by two beautiful and vastly different cultures. Back then, I wasn't even aware of the presence of a third culture creeping up on me until it was time for me to choose a language to study, and my brother told me to "learn the language of my birthplace and shape it to be a part of my cultural heritage." It was for that reason I chose to learn French, with much thanks to the city of Pointe-Claire in Québec, Canada. As a result, the choice to participate in the Biology program in Grenoble, France could not have been clearer. With my desire to experience hands-on the French culture I've been learning about in the classroom for so long, as well as my passion and interests in immunology, I knew that this program had to be the one for me.


What did you learn about yourself?
From studying abroad, many things about myself came to light. For one, I realized my overwhelming desire and happiness to be independent. Although college definitely helped to shape my independence, home for me was still only a few minutes away, so even though I was in college and living in college, being from Chapel Hill, I still felt like a part of me was tied down in a way. Going out of the United States and being in a different country entirely really shaped a whole new image of independence in my mind. I also realized that although I have a lot of fears, I have a strong desire and willingness to go out and try new things, despite being afraid. During the program, an example of me trying new things would be going canyoning (which involved jumping off of waterfalls) despite my absolutely terrible fear of heights!


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
Wow, this is an impossibly difficult question. I know that, for a fact, I do not have one favorite memory, but many. From hiking in the scorching heat for hours in order to climb to the very top of one of Marseille's famous Calanques and seeing the beautiful Mediterranean sea, to karaoking with my whole study abroad family in Grenoble and singing our favorite songs, every memory from my program has a special place in my heart.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Often, one of the most difficult parts of study abroad is none other than the "study" aspect. I know that for me personally, I struggled between choosing to stay in and study for exams or going out and exploring different countries and cities during the weekends. So dear future study abroad students, all I have to say is this: remember that studying abroad is a once in a lifetime adventure and to make sure that whatever you decide on doing, when you come home you will have absolutely no regrets!


Would you do it again?


How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
I'm going to focus on the French class I took abroad. In class (for example, at UNC), especially a language class, you learn and practice the language by speaking it, writing it, and reading it. You learn about different cultures through textbooks, movies, class discussions, articles, and class activities. However, one of the many goals of learning a language is to ultimately go to a country where your language is spoken, and APPLY all that you have learned in a classroom setting to REALITY. My French class was phenomenal in so many ways. Although many parts of it, such as the textbook exercises, reminded me of my French classes back at UNC, the one striking difference was that instead of learning about the history of Grenoble in a textbook, our French teacher took us on many class excursions where we would physically go out into the city and explore the many places around Grenoble that held much of the city's ancient history. This in itself made the French class extraordinary and DIFFERENT, and made learning truly more enjoyable on a whole new scale.