Pourquoi la France ? // Why France?

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. -Rumi

At this point you may be asking why France? (Although I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to drop everything to go to France for 7 months)

It all began in middle school – 6th grade to be exact. I grew up in a city with just two foreign language options: Spanish and French. After a single semester class divided between both languages, I chose to move forward by adding French to my schedule for the next year. Although we spent the majority of our time learning basic conversation skills, colors and classroom object vocabulary, I knew that French was the foreign language for me. Despite several counselors’ best efforts to convince me that taking Spanish in the 8th grade was the ‘right choice’ (why would you take French again when you have the opportunity to try Spanish?!), I signed up for yet another year of French.

Fast forward to new student orientation in July 2008 and you’ll find me sitting in a lecture hall at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, taking a placement test to see just how many semesters of French (the LSA program requires 4 semesters or 2 years) I can test out of. Yet my goal wasn’t to bypass the requirement just to be done with French forever. I felt (perhaps overly) confident in my abilities to test out of the introductory courses and move on to higher level classes. I succeeded in testing out of 2 semesters and enrolled in French 231 for the Fall 2008 semester. Little did I know, I would meet some amazing people in my first year French classes, both students and professors alike. Two of those students I am still friends with today, one of whom I lived with for a year. And who wouldn’t love a professor who shares hilarious stories about moving to Florida from France; a professor who hugs you while you cry in her office immediately after un examan oral??

Skipping over 4 years of French courses with amazingly knowledgeable and interesting instructors, and an unexpected friendship with the only professor that has ever legitimately frightened me, I found myself in Ottawa, Ontario in May and June of 2012.

MP Jeff Watson and myself, sitting in the Speaker of the House's chair
MP Jeff Watson and myself, sitting in the Speaker of the House’s chair
Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill

The Ottawa Internship Program is a joint project between U of M Dearborn and the Parliament of Canada that places 20-25 University of Michigan students in the offices of MPs and Senators for a hands-on government experience. While this internship is geared toward Political Science and Public Policy students, each year a select few from the French department apply and are selected to participate. (If you, or anyone you know, are interested in the program feel free to comment/email with questions!)

Frenchies à Montréal
Frenchies à Montréal

My brief time working for a French-Canadian Senator in Ottawa and my even more brief time (only a weekend!) in Montreal and Quebec City gave me a taste of what living and working in Europe could be.

My very first hostel experience in Vieux Québec
My very first hostel experience in Vieux Québec

These experiences, along with countless others (far too many to detail here), have fueled my desire to experience in person the country I’ve spent so many years learning about. What better way to do so than by sharing my language, culture and experiences with others whose position I was once in.

To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world. – Chinese Proverb

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2 thoughts on “Pourquoi la France ? // Why France?

  1. Your story is so inspiring, I am trying to choose my major now and can’t decide between English Literature and do teaching english abroad in Eastern European/Asian countries or probably go to school for an extra year and get a minor/major in French… I think I will end up getting a minor, I would love to do TAPIF. But we will see. I’m genuinely excited to read more about your story!

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  2. Hi Brittany, thank you so much for your kind words! I struggled to decide on a major as well. My decision to major in French instead of minoring in it was a by product of the fact that I needed an extra semester to complete my Econ major. I love French and with the extra semester I would easily have enough credits for the major. My advice is not to stress about the decision! No matter what you decide it will be right in the end 🙂 TAPIF is always here if you decide to pursue it – the program wasn’t part of my ‘plan’ but in the end I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

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