Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because it was important to me to be in an area of France that was not filled with tourists. However, Rennes is also only two hours, by train, outside of Paris. Therefore, it is still easy enough to see some main touristic spots in the country.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My favorite class abroad was my oral comprehension class. what the teacher would do is every week play a movie trailer, music video, news cast, or something of that nature and then we tried to figure out what they were saying. This class was great not only because it helped improve my oral comprehension skills but also because it showed us current French pop culture.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? While abroad I lived with a host family. If I'm being honest, I was worried about this in the beginning. However, I think it ended up being the best thing about the program. My host family cared for me and treated me like I was a part of the family however still gave me my freedom to travel and go out at night. I also give them a lot of credit for how much my language skills improved.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? As cliché as this may sound, don't waste a single moment. Studying abroad goes by faster than you'll expect. So even if it's just taking a walk through the park after school, be sure to take it all in and enjoy every second. Also, pack light!
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? My biggest surprise was to find out that everything is closed on Sundays! It's a day that is meant to be spent with family and friends.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Although every person experiences culture shock differently, I didn't have much trouble while abroad or when I came back. For the first month or so I would get sad every so often, but a quick chat with some friends on Skype would take that away. The way back was a little more difficult. While abroad I made a new set of family and friends, so knowing that I had to leave them and not knowing when I would see them again was hard.
“If I could do it over, I would…” Pack lighter!
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? Aside from the knowledge I gained of the French culture and language, I learned that I am capable of a lot more than what I thought. My semester abroad ended up teaching me a lot about myself and helped me figure out what I want most out of life.
What was your greatest challenge? Surprisingly, I had a really hard time not eating peanut butter daily. France, and most of Europe, don't really eat peanut butter which posed a challenge when I was looking for a place to buy some.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Contrary to popular belief, they don't eat snails and frog legs all the time. The meals that my host family would cook were actually not all that different from the food that I normally eat here.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I found scholarships through the study abroad office and my advisor.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? For those students who are either in the Groups Program or are a 21st Century Scholar, I recommend looking into the DEMA Study Abroad Scholarship.