Ellen Thompson

Ellen is an Ambassador who studied abroad in France
Major: Psychology

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

The strong emphasis and opportunity to study abroad at the College of St. Benedict was one of the main reasons that I chose to attend this school. I had already started to think about studying abroad for a semester since my freshman year, because I knew that the experience could only benefit me in my future endeavors. Previously, I had taken quite a bit of Spanish language courses, both in high school as well as at CSB/SJU and wanted to challenge myself further by trying to learn a second foreign language. The France program fit my personal and academic goals very well, because the language requirement that was once required was removed. This gave me the opportunity to begin learning French in the host country and in almost complete immersion. I had only been to Europe once before and was also hoping to come away with a more cohesive understanding of European life and culture.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

Our art history professor at the Collège invited our class to her home to have an authentic French dinner with her and her family. This was by far one of the most memorable cultural experiences that I had on the program for multiple reasons. We were given the opportunity to try a multitude of traditional French foods that included but were not limited to: escargots, foie gras, olive loaf, raclette, and île flottant. It was also a huge honor to be invited to join her family and converse in French with her husband and children. This allowed to me to experience French family life firsthand and further improve my conversational French abilities.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Without hesitation, I would study abroad in France again. Living outside the United States of America for four months challenged my independence, but also shaped me into being an effective group member. All of the experiences that I had while abroad taught me to seize each and every opportunity that comes your way and make the absolute best of it.

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?

Learning a second foreign language (French) was easily one of the most prominent benefits of spending a semester abroad. It contributes to further academic and professional development for myself, because knowing another language outside of English will only help me get into a good law school and obtain employment afterwards. Studying abroad as a senior also allowed me to have a taste of independence before graduation in the spring. I know feel much more confident in then choices that I make and know that I am much more easily adaptable to new or challenging situations.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

I would tell them to go ahead and take a risk. Whether someone has a faint or strong interest in studying abroad, it will honestly only benefit you to be exposed to something new, while meeting new people. I have absolutely no regrets from choosing to study abroad for a semester and this is the prime time in your life to do live in another country before getting settled down in a career, continuing school, etc. It is also a good idea to plan ahead if you want to do something or travel somewhere on your own that isn't included in the trip. If you have really specific questions about studying abroad don't be afraid to contact someone who has gone before to ask them directly!


Do you have questions about studying abroad in France?  Email Ellen at abroad@csbsju.edu