During my first few weeks at IES Abroad Nantes, I mulled over my course selections, eager to find courses that sparked my interest. After much difficulty, I settled on four different courses, but the pressure to choose a fifth loomed. Then, as the deadline to choose a fifth class approached, I found myself grappling with unexpected circumstances; suffering from COVID-19 (fifth time with COVID, but the first time having it in another country!). I hastily scribbled down “teaching internship” just to fulfill the requirement. Little did I know that this spontaneous decision would quite literally alter the course of my life.
Students taking this internship are required to attend a weekly class at IES Abroad Nantes. Additionally, students are randomly paired with a local French school, where they must dedicate four hours per week to teaching. I was fortunate to be paired with IMS, which turned out to be one of the luckiest things to happen to me. The faculty and staff at IMS were incredibly welcoming, the school is around the corner from IES Abroad Nantes Center, and the IMS students turned out to be my age (or older)!
I taught interesting topics that paired perfectly with my economics major, such as working conditions in the United States, the role of a U.S. Financial Advisor, and investing, specifically discussing concepts like stocks and bonds.
Delving into the impact of COVID-19 on inflation and dissecting how millennials spend and save added contemporary relevance to our discussions. It wasn’t just about teaching a language; it was about sharing insights that mirrored the economic landscape, fostering discussions that bridged international perspectives.
What made this experiencing even more fulfilling was the opportunity to introduce aspects of everyday American culture. I presented on my home university, Gettysburg College, introducing students to American higher education. I could hear the gasps when I mentioned the tuition. I also introduced a unit on American slang, the very important vocabulary that you can’t find in a textbook. We also spent some time talking about American clichés, while the students shared some French clichés.
Toward the end of the semester, I was fortunate to be among three chosen to present at an event known as Le Café Autour du Monde. At this event, I had the chance to engage with French Tourism students and share insights about my student-abroad journey in a country new to me. This was a great opportunity to practice my French-speaking skills. I connected with newfound friends who come from France and Italy. I remember thinking how cool it was that French linked us all together, even though we all came from different parts of the world.
My last class was an emotional one. I was upset that this would be my last time teaching at IMS. We had just finished reviewing all of the concepts that had been taught throughout the semester when, all of a sudden, me and all 30 students were called upstairs to the student workshop. Waiting upstairs were gifts and refreshments–the students and professor had put together a surprise farewell party for me!
But beyond the lesson plans and presentations lay the heart of this experience–the connections forged with my students and professors. This experience wouldn’t have been half as enriching without the guidance and mentorship of Yolaine Leblanc and Evelyne Micou, the professors who welcomed me into the school. Their kindness and expertise made the experience truly unique and invaluable. They not only provided support but encouraged autonomy, allowing me to tailor lessons that merged my academic background with the students’ interests. Their patience and encouragement in navigating unfamiliar territories echoes beyond the classroom, imprinting lessons of compassion, adaptability, and a passion for imparting knowledge that I’ll carry throughout my life.
More Blogs From This Author
I became inspired to travel abroad after reading the book "Banner in the Sky" by James Ullman. Since then, I've dreamed of visiting Switzerland and climbing the Matterhorn during the day and snowboarding down the Swiss mountains at night!