This is an excerpt from a larger piece for the Honors Program at Elizabethtown College. In it, Jack shares many of his in-class and out-of-class experiences from his year abroad in France, first in Paris and then in Strasbourg.
I took a few different courses in Paris. Firstly, I took a general course in French language. This class incorporated written, hearing, and speaking elements to help us perfect our French skills. We often worked in groups or as a class on readings, handouts, and assignments. Although the class was designated as B2.2 level (Upper Intermediate), there were some who were approaching fluency whereas others were closer to Low to Mid-Intermediate level. This diversity was a tool for all students alike to learn with the help of one another. Secondly, I took a Phonetics course. This class built on what I learned in my French language class by giving me the tools to perfect my pronunciation in French. Thirdly, I took an elective titled “Panorama of French cinema”. The professor of this course was inspiringly passionate about cinema and art, and weaved together philosophy, history, and politics into both these domains. My fourth and final class was taught in English and was titled “The European Union Today.” A lovely Englishwoman was the professor, and she provided a very unique perspective on the EU, its positives, and its limitations which was especially poignant in the time of Brexit. The entire class and the professor connected very well together, and we were able to use this close relationship to enhance our learning environment.
Following this fantastic semester, in spring 2019 I went to Strasbourg, France, located in the Alsace-Lorraine region. Passed between Germany and France throughout history, this region boasts a unique identity within France, including its own dialect: Alsatian, a mix of French and German. This city is also where my grandmother was born and lived until the age of 33, when she immigrated to the United States with her new husband, my grandfather. In Strasbourg I took part in a unique program called Institute for Field Education (IFE). I spent one month taking courses with professors from the local Université de Strasbourg, and the final 3 months were dedicated to an internship, at the culmination of which I produced a 35-page independent and original research project.
Due to the particularity of the program, the courses I took were geared towards providing me with a fundamental yet diverse and complex understanding of France in its current state. Thus I learned about France’s sociology and its unique welfare state. I studied France’s history and especially the history of its governments. I was exposed to France’s role in international relations and learned about the wider context within which actions by states take place. And finally, I took a brief class on human rights and France’s contribution to this concept, beginning with the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of the Man and the Citizen. These courses added to my previous courses and enhanced my knowledge on French history, culture, and politics.
After my month of courses, I started my internship at the European Consumer Centre France located in Kehl, Germany, a tram-ride away across the Rhine. I was placed here due to my major and minors, as well as my interest in politics and the European Union. My director was the Human Resources officer at this non-profit, and with her I worked on a few separate projects to increase group cohesion among the different groups within the building. For instance, I put together a central HR document for employees that contained important documentation such as forms for vacation time or for compensation for travel due to work. I also held weekly English conversation hours open to all employees to help them practice their English. As they are a part of a European-wide network, their English capabilities are of utmost importance when trying to communicate with a colleague, consumer, or business from another country. My final big project to this end was the creation of an Escape Room, written entirely and exclusively in French and featuring an original scenario and incorporating elements of historical pop culture and team-building exercises.
This paper, and its associated presentation, is part of a series of study abroad narratives written for the Honors Program. If you are an Honors student, you too can earn four Honors credits through your study abroad experience! To learn more about the CIS Abroad Paris program and the Institute for Field Education Strasbourg program, click the hyperlinks.
About the Author: Jack Trego ’20 – Fall 2018, Semester in Paris, France, and Spring 2019 – Semester in Strasbourg, France
Hi! I am a Senior French major with minors in philosophy and international studies. I spent my 2018-2019 school year in France: Paris in the fall and Strasbourg in the spring. While there I spent my time learning about my neighborhoods and living like a local, I took classes with other French and international students, engaged in many extra-curricular events like trips and conversation hours, and completed a 3-month internship which culminated in a 35-page original dissertation on European governance and the process of integration. I grew so much as a person and as a student abroad thanks to so many fulfilling and formative experiences. I may be biased but… if you’re reading this you should study abroad.
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