What’s your first name?
Christina, or Neena works!
What brought you to France?
I double majored with French and International & Global Studies (concentrating in Human Rights) in my university, so it seemed only fitting! It helped with the understanding of both of my majors. Even if I was studying something completely different like Biology, I would still want to experience living abroad in a French-speaking country.
Can you describe the process of becoming a student in a foreign country?’
The process actually wasn’t hard at all! I applied with the study abroad program through my school, which has connections with universities all across the globe. I had to have the appropriate GPA, fill out background information, answer some short answer questions to explain why I wanted to go and submit two professor recommendations. It took some paperwork but the school definitely encouraged you to study abroad.
How would you compare being a university student there versus being a student in the United States?
I definitely noticed a higher value for education over there (despite the fact that it is significantly cheaper to attend a university in college). For example, in one of my History classes we took our last test but we still had classes for another 3 weeks. There were no other graded assignments or penalty for skipping class. Yet, nearly everyone still came to those classes to simply learn more. How cool is that! I imagine that if that was the case in the US, the attendance would be drastically lower.
How familiar were your classmates of American culture?
My classmates were very familiar with American celebrities, movies, and music. Some even spoke English.
You were in Normandy. Were you able to travel into Paris much? If so, was getting there a challenge?
I actually flew in and out of Paris a couple times to fly to other countries so knowing how to travel to Paris was a must. To get to Paris I had to: take our local metro to the bus station, bus to the closest metro station in Paris, and then the metro had a stop right into the Paris airport. The abundance of public transportation made traveling to Paris a lot easier. In fact, transportation was simple to get to other countries within Europe as well.
Can you study abroad in France successfully without being fluent in French?
Absolutely. In fact, I saw the biggest growth with those who started out with the weakest French. You just need to gain the confidence to at least try because native speakers will appreciate that, rather than automatically speaking English to them. Studying abroad definitely pushes you to be more confident in speaking a foreign language because there are situations where you have no other option. You won’t be in those situations when you’re in the U.S.
Moving to any country is an adjustment. What’s been your biggest adjustment so far?
My biggest adjustment was breaking my daily routine. You get so used to having a set schedule, so it can be tough to break it. Living abroad is living out of your comfort zone.
Have you discovered any favorite (and not so favorite) traditional French dishes?
Favorite: galettes, crêpes, gauffres and the bread is simply the best you can imagine. Least favorite: smelly and strong cheese like raclette.
If a few of your friends were in France for just 24 hours, what would you suggest that they see or do?
I would definitely take them to the city I stayed in, Rennes. It’s beautifully unique and I would know the best local spots for them to eat, introduce them to great people, and tell them the best sites to see.
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