I’ve wanted to visit France since I began learning the language as a freshman in high school. I never would have guessed that I would still be studying French in college, let alone taking it on as an additional major with chemistry. Once I heard about UA’s Alabama in France summer study abroad program, I knew I had to participate. Since I am now a junior chemistry major taking mainly science classes and planning to apply for medical school next summer, this summer is the perfect time for me to study abroad.

Preparing for any new lifestyle change, whether it be college or studying abroad, is typically more stressful than the event itself (in hindsight). I’ve been nervous leading up to this trip about being in such a new place for so long without access to my family, and about staying with a host family for an entire month. After already having completed two years of college, I know that I will be okay on my own. Making new friends has always been the easiest for me when I have fun and be myself. These feelings of nervousness are overpowered by the joy of starting this program. I am so excited to be fully immersed in French culture and to experience firsthand everything I’ve studied for the past 6 years!

I decided to only carry on luggage on my plane rides, so my bags are pretty small but stuffed to the gills. The most important things to pack are patience and a smile! I have been lucky enough to do a little traveling before my program starts. Below is a picture of me in Barcelona, Spain! My flight from the US was 8 hours long, leaving at night and landing there in the morning. I wasn’t able to sleep well on the plane, but somehow I was able to overcome the fatigue and jet lag by staying up all day after landing. This helped me stay on schedule and adjust to the 7 hour time difference.

From this program, I hope to gain better language skills, as well as better communication skills. I obviously can’t become completely fluent in French in 5 weeks, but I would like to be able to carry on basic conversation more comfortably. Something important I hope to gain this summer abroad is confidence and a greater ability to meet new people. I have always had shy tendencies around meeting people, and I hope getting out of my comfort zone with my host family and during French classes will help me accomplish this. Overall, I hope to have fun and enjoy each moment in Europe. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to learn abroad and fulfill my dreams. Au revoir for now!