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Study Abroad In France

By: Ashley Jakubek

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“I knew coming to UT as a freshman that I wanted to study abroad for at least a semester in France to improvement languages skills, and this past semester I had the opportunity to . . . study abroad for three and a half months in Paris, France.”

 

 

The French language and culture have always been of particular interest to me. The accent, the cafés, the Nutella. Each aspect has had a strong allure to me since I began learning the language in high school. I knew coming to UT as a freshman that I wanted to study abroad for at least a semester in France to improve my language skills, and this past spring semester, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad for three and a half months in Paris, France. I took courses entirely in French, which was terrifying at first but which quickly became second nature. I am an avid dancer, so the option afforded by my program to take dance classes at a studio in the heart of Paris was certainly a no-brainer for me. Who else can say that they took a weekly funk jazz dance class from the choreographer of the Macarena? Not many.

ashley4-300x200I was also given an opportunity via a service-learning course to volunteer with a local French nonprofit organization. Each week, I translated birthday cards sent to sponsored children in lesser-developed nations and conducted other administrative tasks. Although translating Joyeux Anniversaire to Happy Birthday became a bit brainless and laborious after a while, being able to converse and problem-solve in French in a work environment was certainly rewarding. In addition to being able to travel to a new country every weekend (eight in total!), I lived with a Parisian family on the outskirts of the city. I lived with a woman and her seven-year-old son, both of whom knew no English, and both of whom loved to laugh at my silly American accent. It was extraordinarily profitable for my language development to eat dinner with them every night and improve my conversation skills.

 

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“Through my experience abroad, I have become more independent, more confident, more skilled, and certainly more “Ready for the World.”

Without the Ready for the World initiative and scholarship I was awarded by the Chancellor’s Honors Program, it is unlikely that my unforgettable experience would have become a reality. As a student majoring in global studies, political science, and French, my interests lay in global affairs and culture, a sphere only truly stimulated and ignited via a study abroad experience. My UT honors courses certainly provided me with a base of global knowledge that I further built upon, not only via courses I took abroad but also through the overall experience in general. Through my experience abroad I have become more independent, more confident, more skilled, and certainly more “Ready for the World.”

 

Although I sorely miss the sound of my host mother’s voice calling me to dinner, the giggles of seven-year-old Renaud, and the chimes of the high-speed SNCF trains taking me around Western Europe, I am content that I can revel in my experience and share it with others, hopefully inspiring them to take a chance of a lifetime themselves.

A bientôt, la France!

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