Kayla Blevins is an Ambassador who studied abroad in France.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I had the amazing opportunity to be able to help gather olives for an afternoon with a family at a small olive farm in the south of France. The day was spent gathering sorting and hauling olives that would eventually be used to make olive oil. We were paid for helping with a traditional Provencal meal, unique to the region. It was an eye-opening experience that gave me insight to a real French lifestyle.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
Studying abroad is more than an especially respected aspect of your life to add to a résumé. The opportunity to embark on a trip with the circumstances presented to me during college will never again be available. Obviously, there are wonderful academic benefits that motivated me to participate in the France Study Abroad Program. I wanted to expand my French language skills as well as my personal relationships. The relationships formed during college, especially at CSB/SJU, are said to last a lifetime, and that is exactly what I was looking for when I traveled to France as well. The ability to extend my connections to members of an international community on a personal level is extraordinary and life changing.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Choosing to go to France is a decision that is a good fit for both those who have some reservations about being out of the country, as well as those who can't wait to get out of St. Joe. Living together with the other CSB-SJU students provides stability and comfort in knowing that you are so close to those sharing the new experiences. However, you have so many opportunities to be able to explore and get out of your comfort zone.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
The trip has made me more culturally aware of everything around me. I enjoyed more than I can explain being able to explore and discover a so many new places and experiences. The trip gave me much more appreciation for all of the little things that make up my life and everything that makes up life abroad.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Go in with an open mind, and then open it more. With an open mind you will be able to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are available. Sometimes the smallest things end up meaning the most and have lasting and impacting memories.