Study Abroad Profile: Sarah Lyons

Sarah Lyons (right) during her study abroad in FranceProgram: University of Minnesota: Advanced French Summer Program
Location: Montpellier, France 
Rank: Junior 
Major: Chemical Engineering; French and English

“I've always wanted to study abroad, and with my French minor I knew that I wanted to study in a Francophone country. I had also never been to Europe but always dreamed of visiting Paris, so I decided to look into programs that went to France. However, with my major it can be difficult to study abroad because it is challenging to move classes around and still graduate on time. This program ended up being perfect for me because going during the summer term allowed me to maintain my schedule for my major during the rest of the academic year. After looking into the program more I fell in love with the location, and I knew that this was the perfect program for me.

Studying abroad truly changed my college experience. Obviously, international experience looks good on any resume, but I also made some amazing friendships from my program. Because my program was organized through a Third Party Provider, the other students on my trip were from across the United States and around the world--in my dorms we had students from Brazil, Mexico, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Korea, Japan and more. Not only was I able to take in the French culture, but the friends Sarah (left) enjoys her time in Francethat I made from around the world introduced me to all new ideas and experiences from their lives and cultures. Despite the diverse backgrounds we all came from, it was amazing how much all of us had in common and how quickly we all became so close. Now, whenever I travel I have friends all over the world to visit!

My favorite experience on my trip was visiting Paris on Bastille Day. In France, the July 14 is La Fete Nationale, and Paris is the center of all of the celebrations. My friends and I took a train up to Paris for the holiday. We were able to go to a parade on the Champs-Élysées where we were able to see the French President, Francoise Holland. Immediately after the parade, everyone began claiming spots in front of the Eiffel Tower--there were more than 500,000 people sitting on the Champ de Mars. We camped out on a picnic blanket for the whole afternoon, and got to know all of the local Parisians sitting around us, many of whom were also college students who told us about what the education system is like in France. There was a live concert by the French National Orchestra, and the entire crowd sang the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise, with enthusiasm that gave me chills. As soon as it was dark, there were fireworks from the Eiffel Tower--it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life.