Photos and content contributed by Kristen Sanchez.
Kristen Sanchez, who is pursuing a double major in Comparative Literature and English, as well as a minor in French spent last summer studying abroad on the faculty led program in Besançon, France. Read about her experience below.
Studying in a small town was a very reassuring factor while being so far from home. The safety and comfort of Besançon made studying there that much more enjoyable. My group and I were able to get to know the town for all it was worth, and by the end of our stay I truly felt as though it was our own hometown. Not only is Besançon a great area in itself, but it’s also only a train ride away from Paris and Switzerland—both beautiful places that I’m grateful to have been able to easily visit multiple times during my stay.
I feel that the summer semester that I chose to study abroad was the best possible decision for me as a transfer student. By the time I transferred to Penn State, I felt that my dream of studying abroad would be impossible if I wanted to graduate on time. However, this program fit perfectly by offering me the final 2 French classes that I needed for my minor without disrupting my other academic plans for my final 2 semesters in college.
Having a program that coordinated day trips during weekends was an amazing traveling experience that really helped when traveling on our own became too exhausting both financially and physically. As a less expensive alternative, we ended up making more friends from the university and were kept in the French-speaking mindset. It becomes all too easy to start speaking English when you’re only with your group and you leave the areas where French is the primary language. I believe that staying involved with the local university, and local French students was extremely beneficial and important to my overall experience.
Studying in France has helped improve my French in ways that undoubtedly no American classroom would be able to. Interacting with locals forced me to expand my vocabulary as well improve my comprehension skills in order to get by. If one day I end up in a career that requires the French language, I will be much more confident in my abilities than I would have been otherwise. Being able to answer questions out of a French textbook is a great place to start when learning a language, but knowing how to actually communicate with native-speakers comfortably is definitely necessary if you want to work with it in after graduation.
I received Enrichment Funding through the College of the Liberal Arts, which helped me greatly and helped alleviate some of the stress of taking out loans and figuring out overall finances for such an extended trip like this.
Choosing to study abroad on this particular program was the best cultural and academic experience I have had so far in my college career. I could not imagine this program having anything other than an incredibly positive impact on anyone who is looking for such an experience!
Interested in studying abroad this summer? Applications for Summer 2017 are due this coming Wednesday, February 1, 2017. All Liberal Arts students studying abroad are eligible for Enrichment Funding. To learn more, please schedule an appointment via Network Symplicity or email Jackie Smith, Global Experiences Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)