1. Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to study abroad primarily because I wanted to finally use the six years of French experience I had before this year in France, around native speakers who would take me seriously. I also was dissatisfied with many things about the curriculum at Saint Anselm, and I was aiming to experience a more European style of education for a while. Finally, as I had never lived away from home before going to Nantes, I was very much interested in leaving to spend some time away from America, home, and my family.
2. If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?
Studying and living abroad teach you so much about who you are as a person; while of course I learned a lot in classrooms and in living in France, the most important things I learned involved how I personally handled conflict up until my immersion experience. I realized in the middle of my semester abroad that I was less mature faced with interpersonal problems than I had thought I was, and it was well worth it after the semester ended to go through the growing pains and problems I did.
3. What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?
Of course, in France, there were some moments when I failed to remember an important word or lacked the vocabulary to describe something. However, I really confirmed in France that I am fluent, and that my accent and rhythm in French are authentic. My most memorable experience involves all of the occasions I had meeting French university students who supported me and validated my skills; they got to practice speaking English, which they liked, so, I got to do the same for them.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?
The biggest obstacle I faced involved getting used to living with a host family. I did not have the ideal host family experience. While my host family was not mean, and while the family members were not awful, I had a bad rapport with my host mother, who expected things of me that I did not like. While I definitely could have extended myself more and been more honest with her, she also could have worked more to understand my personal and cultural background, and she seemed not to do that.
5. What was your first week like abroad?
My first week was different than I thought it would be: I thought that I was going to have a lot more culture shock than I did. I admit that I did prepare for and think about my time abroad for a year or two before I left, but still, I had a very easy and natural time getting used to things, and I was happy about that. Of course, I did not feel instantly at ease living with strangers, but I did meet friends and click within a few days, and through the program's orientation, I was able to start friendships that I fostered through the semester.
6. Would you recommend this program to others? Why or why not?
I would recommend this program to people, assuming that they are mature, independent, and relatively at ease getting to know strangers and doing things for themselves... often! My program was not particularly challenging in its classes and in its administration in concerns to French language proficiency, so, even beginners can get a lot out of the program, although I would still recommend that one's French be as proficient as possible before uprooting oneself to go live in France.
7. Express two or three things that help us to understand how you felt living in the city of Nantes:
Nantes is a really beautiful and comfortable city in which to live: it is clean, well-designed for pedestrians and with public transportation, and balanced between the hustle and bustle of daily life and that country/rustic feel. Two places that really made me feel comfortable are a bakery/sandwich shop called La Viennoise, and a café that actually just closed this past week called Café Kofi. With their food and beverages and ambiance, I felt totally at ease: the owner of the latter always encouraged my coming as a regular with my friends, and I love that.
8. What advice would you give to students to help them in choosing a program?
Consider what kind of experience you want, especially if you happen to choose a primarily non-English speaking country: do you really want to immerse yourself, or are you comfortable taking some or the majority of your classes in English? Do you want to live with a host family, or are you the kind of person who would prefer apartment or dorm-style living? Lastly, how long do you want to be abroad for? What are the pros and cons of missing time away from Saint Anselm?