When starting to explore the many study abroad programs, I knew there was only one country for me: France. However, I did not know what program to choose in this vast country. After much research, I realized the IES Abroad French Studies program in Paris was the perfect fit for me.
The fact that I am minoring in French and political science played a major role in my decision. I wanted to choose a program that would allow me to complete both minors, and this program offered the most classes that allowed me to accomplish this. In particular, the French Studies program provided the most French classes because all of the courses are taught in French. Unfortunately, Penn State has very specific political science requirements, so I will not finish that minor while I am here; however, my current political science course, terrorism and security, will count towards my second minor. As soon as I discovered this program offered multiple courses relevant to my academics, the French Studies program jumped to the top of my list.
While course offerings played a vital role in my decision, the culture surrounding the program played a large role in my choice, too. I have been studying French since ninth grade, but a classroom can only take you so far. I wanted to truly immerse myself in both the language and the culture, and Paris is the epicenter for this criteria. Additionally, I wanted to challenge myself during my time in France, and the fact that the French Studies program offers all of their classes in French was a big plus for me. As I already stated, classes back home can only take you so far, so the combination of immersing myself in France and taking my classes in the French language has really pushed my language proficiency. Finally, I decided to live with a host family during my time here, and I could not be happier with this decision. I have mentioned in past blogs how nice and welcoming the family is, and that has not changed. It is very helpful to always have someone available to ask about vocabulary or culture questions, and I love dinner with the family. There have been countless instances where I just ask someone in the family how to say a certain food in French, and then I tell them how to say the object in English. This open, hospitable aspect of my abroad experience has gone better than I could have ever imagined.
After much research, I realized that the IES Abroad French Studies program was the best option for me for multiple reasons. They offer the most classes that are relevant to two of my minors, I am challenged every day with classes taught in French, and my host family has helped me with so many daily aspects. Also, the fact that I could live in Paris for multiple months was certainly a plus. I am having a fantastic start to the semester, and this great beginning has made me curious to see if I will have the same mindset in a couple of months.