September 21 2011
Kate Ellen Dean, BSILR '12
With the support of an international experience grant this summer I traveled to Paris, France, to participate in an intensive French language program at L'Université Paris-Sorbonne. The trip provided me the opportunity to study French in an immersive, culturally-relevant environment.
In Paris I took up residence with a French host family, to whom I am incalculably grateful for providing me with the kind of experience that I think inspires college students to seriously consider the benefits of "accidentally missing" their return-home flights. With regard to the academic dimension of my experience in Paris, at La Sorbonne I studied daily on the Boulevard Montparnasse. The class was composed of a four-hour lecture and one-hour phonetics lab. It was supplemented by bi-weekly optional discourses on French civilization at another Sorbonne campus.
The first few weeks of class at La Sorbonne were a review for me of basic French grammatical concepts. As the class progressed I developed my vocabulary and began practicing more advanced forms of verb conjugation. A majority of lessons were structured around the context of Parisian culture and history, so I learned a lot about the city in class. Unfortunately I had to leave Paris just as I was hitting my stride with the language, but my infatuation with French continues; I am currently enrolled in the French curriculum at Cornell.
My experience this summer in Paris will undoubtedly assist me in the future because it improved my French language skills, enhanced my familiarity with foreign markets, and exposed me to many EU social policy issues I had previously only had the opportunity to study. Beyond the trip's positive academic attributes, in Paris I also met a diverse group of friends through La Sorbonne. I was glad to have peers to practice my French with outside of class, but also, especially after spending my first two weeks of the trip getting registered and settled in on my own, it was wonderful meeting people to read, talk, and to experience the luminance of Paris with. While I may have anticipated that I would return to Cornell knowing more about French language and culture, I hadn't anticipated coming back having built such profound relationships with the people there.
I am very grateful to ILR for having presented me with an international experience grant for Summer 2011. I consider my trip to Paris a significant building block toward my future interests and goals within and outside of ILR, and a step of my education I would not have been capable of making without the support of the experience grant and ILR International Programs Office.