What does study abroad mean to you? Does it mean running around a foreign country with other students from your home country, seeing the sights but never really digging below the surface? We hope not! Studying abroad is an opportunity to experience a different culture from the inside. Why not go “all the way” and study like a local? ISEP offers fully immersive programs that let you study your subject in a host language — which means you get to maximize your time understanding the culture and improving your language skills, and get credit toward your major to boot! Everybody wins (well, mostly you).
So what does studying in a host language look like? ISEP student Jacquee, a sociology student from Ball State University, spent a semester at the Université du Havre. She took classes in sociology, history, and even some electives — this is what she had to say about her first day of theatre class:
“After lunch, I had my theatre class. This was… interesting. I have never really taken a class on theatre, but it was cool! The teacher didn’t have the book ready, you know, for a script, so we did improvisation activities. I didn’t participate in the harder ones. Improvisation includes talking and I can’t really speak in French well enough to do that. SO, I tried, and it was so hard listening to myself talking in French, I laughed and therefore broke the improvisation. We had to pretend that we hated the person that we bumped into. I bumped into my friend Jane, and I don’t know many phrases, so I just said, ‘I hate you.’ And then she went rambling on in French, I didn’t understand any of it, and then when it was my turn, I said only what I knew, ‘I hate you because you are small’ (and she is). I totally broke character because I said it sort of wrong with a terrible accent. Everyone enjoyed it, but I felt so embarrassed! It was worth the practice though. I look forward to more theatre class!”
It sounds like Jacquee got plenty of chances to practice her French conversation skills. But perhaps the best part about studying like a local is making friends with local students in your classes, and in turn teaching them about your culture. Jacquee explains how her French classmates said “goodbye” on her last day of theatre class:
“[...] just as I thought class was ending, my friend turns me and begins a small speech…
‘So when you taught us about the American school system, you talked about how you throw your hats at graduation. Do you remember that? We all would like to celebrate your graduation…’
The entire class pulled out hats of every kind… snow hats, sombreros, fedoras… they put them on, counted down and threw their hats in the air.
Naturally, I started crying. I was just expecting something completely different and detached, whereas this was so personal and touching. It was absolutely perfect and I felt to lucky to have friends like that.”
Watch Jacquee’s friends giving her an American graduation send-off in the video:
Convinced that living like a local is the study abroad experience for you? Check out our eighteen (eighteen!!!) programs in France, where you’ll refine your language skills and make French friends while nibbling on freshly baked baguettes. French not your thing? No problem! Find the right program for you at one of ISEP’s member universities all over the world — start on the ISEP website.
Lastly, you can read more about Jacquee’s time in Le Havre on her blog, where she provides an honest account of life as an American student in France.