Angela Heaney, a senior international development studies major, was fully immersed in the language and culture of France while abroad on the Institute for American Universities: Aix-en-Provence, France summer 2022 program.
When I arrived in France, I spoke very little French with the intention of full language immersion. I was ecstatic to learn another language. About two weeks into the program, a friend and I stopped in a fromagerie after French class. The worker helping us supported our goal to only speak French. As we tasted different cheeses, he was very patient, and I grew more confident in my speaking abilities. He gave me extra cheese for free as a reward. The confidence I gained from this one experience carried into other ones during my program, such as navigating the French train system with friends.
I knew that I wanted to learn more than one language while in college. The pandemic impacted my original study abroad plans, and French was the next language I wanted to study. I wanted a program that allowed me to live like a local. The Institute of American Universities was one of the few programs that offered Beginner French. The summer program also allowed students to live in Aix-en-Provence, France for six weeks.
Studying abroad was one of the best experiences I have had in college. I gained so much confidence in myself and my ability to navigate a new country, language and culture. Every program is different, but every study abroad experience is impactful.
For those going abroad, I recommend talking to as many people as you can and making connections everywhere. If you are speaking a different language, do not be afraid to make mistakes. It can be intimidating to talk in a language that you are not fully comfortable speaking, but you will find that people are more than willing to help. Stay open minded, attend events your program offers and fully immerse yourself in the experience.