Why did you decide to study abroad in France?
I decided to go to France because I had always enjoyed learning about the language and the culture in classes that I had taken. I loved the history and was in love with everything French. I admittedly had a very naïve, romantic idea of what France would be and what type of experience I had. My experience turned out to be anything but what I expected but it was nonetheless magnificent and unforgettable. I enrolled in a language immersion school in Annecy, Rhône-Alpes. It was called Institut Français des Alpes (a.k.a. IFALPES). One of my teachers had attended the school a decade or so before and he highly recommended it. I took a semester off of school and obtained a student visa all on my own and went for it!
How has your experience in France contributed to your personal and professional goals?
I went because I wanted to become fluent in French and experience something entirely new and memorable. I experienced and enjoyed far more than I ever expected to. I learned so much as far as the language and the culture and by the end of my stay was able to fool a lot of French people into thinking I was a native French speaker(a lot thought I was actually French)! What a huge compliment! I made lifelong friends from all over the world. I still communicate with most of them even now three years later! As far as my professional goals, during college I was able to work multiple jobs that required I speak French. I was a tour leader/driver for a Québecois tour company that catered to French adolescents and I also worked at a brand new French immersion charter school in Oakland! It was incredibly rewarding and satisfying to be able to use a skill that brought me so much personal satisfaction in a professional capacity.
Can you tell us a little anecdote or memory that happened during your stay in France?
There are so many stories I could tell and it’s hard to choose one…One of the coolest ones was when I did some traveling and I used Couchsurfing.com to find people to stay with(highly recommend it because you save so much money)! I stayed with a gentlemen in Strasbourg who worked at the Conseil de l’Europe. At the time I was planning on studying international relations and when he found out how interested I was he took me to work with him and I got to see what it was like at such an important international institution! Coincidently, another person was staying with him at the same time who worked at the European Parliament which was being held in Strasbourg that weekend and we got to go spend a day there with him as well! It was much more exclusive because this institution was not accessible for tourists, you had to know someone on the inside and come as a guest! There were TV crews everywhere and people holding interviews and we got to sit down and have lunch in the cafeteria! I felt really out of place but it was so much fun!
In one sentence, study in France means…
Having a profoundly unique and rewarding experience in one of the most renowned countries in the world and being able to call a little piece of it your own and your home away from home.