Rose Gangl is an Ambassador who studied abroad in France
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I choose the France program because it has been a goal of mine since 8th grade. Studying the French language and culture is a hobby of mine. I find it so fascinating to learn about another group of people, and what better way to do so then to live in another country for a few months? I have had family and friends who have studied abroad while they were in college and they always spoke positively about their experiences. With the help of the OEA office, studying abroad became a realistic goal--financially, academically, etc. I figured I might never get this chance to live in another country again so I could not pass it up.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
It is hard to pick just one moment. Throughout the entire program, I was continually making lasting memories and impressions. If I had to pick one specific cultural experience, I would pick the Expression Théâtrale that I participated in. This was a class run by the director of the Collége, Patrick. With Patrick, all of the Bennies and Johnnies worked all semester on a play he wrote, titled Si c'était à refraire (If it was a do over). This short play dealt with a specific verb tense: the conditional past. The French take a lot of pride in the precision and rules of their language. This play illuminated just that. The main character in the play was not a specific character but rather the grammar within the play. By having the play organized like that, we learned about the French love for their language. After months of rehearsal, we put this play on for the French community. Opening night was one of the most rewarding moments within the program! All of us were able to put on a play in another language for natives of that language and elicit laughter. We were able to clearly present our message which was exciting and very rewarding. It was confirmation that we were learning the language and understanding their culture a bit better. It was fantastic!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Whenever I think of my study abroad experience, one word comes to mind-inoubiable (unforgettable). This was a hands-on learning experience, each week I was learning something new about the country I was in or myself. There were excursions and activities that one can only experience in France. The four months that I spent in France were so eye opening. The world became a bigger but also at the same time, smaller. I made friends from all around the world who I will continue to stay in contact with. The memories that I have I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The four months spent abroad were so educational, so beneficial, so positive, and so eye opening. It was an unforgettable experience.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
It is true, study abroad is life-changing. For me, I had never traveled outside of the US before. While studying abroad, I was able to assess the French culture and the American culture. By doing this, I learned what I valued and why I valued what I did. This program allowed me to reflect upon myself and learn more about myself. Living in the US your entire life, you understand the social norms without having to consciously learn them, you just know them. However, by living in another county, I had to learn their social norms so I didn't stick out. This taught me to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. I had to be comfortable with who I am and that contributed to my personal goals. As far as academics and professional development go, I managed to finish my French minor while abroad. This was very helpful because it opened up my schedule for my last three semesters at CSB/SJU. On a professional level, I have gained confidence in myself that no other experience would have given me. As a theatre enthusiast, I learned confidence in myself that no theatre project would have given me. There are so many skills that study abroad gave me that I will bring with me to future jobs or schooling I pursue.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
There are no other programs at CSB/SJU that can give you quite the same experience and hands-on learning that study abroad can. If you are considering studying abroad/want to study abroad-DO IT! You won't regret it! There are so many resources available to you through the OEA, take advantage of them. Being able to live and become fully immersed in a culture is a rare opportunity that studying abroad can give you. I highly recommend traveling out of your comfort zone and trying something new. As cliché as it sounds, the results will be so rewarding and life-changing.
Do you have any questions about studying abroad in France? Contact Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org