Monica Larson is an International Ambassador in the office of International Degree and Education Abroad at Oregon State University. She is also a senior pursuing a degree in Zoology and a minor in French. Monica shares how her fascination with the French culture as a little girl took her half way across the world to study abroad at the Université Catholique de l’Ouestin in Angers, France, through AHA, and Contemporary French Studies Program in Paris, France, through CIEE.
Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the French language. When I was younger, I thought the language had an intriguing sound. Little did I know how far that intrigue would take me – turns out it was half way across the world. I took French in high school, and my family participated in a program where we housed Charles Molia, who was from France, for one month during the summer. The month we had with him could not have been better. Since then, our family has met his family, and we are all very close and regularly talk to each other. This experience only enhanced my fascination with the French.
After this, I tried to learn as much as possible about French culture and society, but I knew that I would never truly get a grasp on it unless I went to France. For that reason, I studied abroad in Paris and Angers during the summer after my sophomore year. In Paris, I took a French film course and explored the city as much as possible. I was there for Bastille Day (French Independence Day), so I was able to compare it to our Independence Day. I find it extremely interesting how cultures are so different from each other, but we are still closely linked to one another. I think it is a necessity to learn about the different cultures around the world, because there are so many different perspectives and we can learn so much from one another to make the world better.
In Angers, I took a language intensive program and learned French along with people from all around the world including Greece, Mexico, China, Ireland, Ukraine, Japan, Columbia, India, and Pakistan just to name a few. I not only learned about the French culture, but also values and beliefs from other cultures from international classmates. I saw different issues in a whole new light. It gave me a chance to discern what I value and believe. This is a great example of things you learn while studying abroad that were not the original goal, but great surprises.
From studying abroad in France I gained countless memories and friends that I will have for my entire life. Also, I learned about myself and what I want to do in life. I realized that I want to work in France one day at a zoo or aquarium.
I would definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone who is thinking about it because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that you will never regret and always remember. In fact, I am planning on going abroad again. I am in the process of applying to the OUS program in Lyon, France, and will be there for a year. I am very excited to return to France to see what new adventures lay ahead.