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Montpellier, France
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Susan Nahvi

Paterno Fellow
Major: International Politics and French

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I came to Penn State knowing that I wanted to study abroad, so I attended the education abroad fair in the fall semester. Then I talked to my French adviser, who recommended certain programs and other options for me. I did lots of research in Penn State's study abroad program search system. I ended up choosing the Montpellier program because it was the most integrated and still a program affiliated with the school.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience was amazing. Montpellier is a city in the south of France that is full of students, so it's always busy and lively. It also just happens to date from medieval times (as many French cities do...). I stayed with a host family right in the heart of the city, which was unusual, as most students stayed more in the suburbs or on the outer skirts of the city. We all attended classes at Paul Valery University, and while I learned a lot in my classes, the real learning was in your everyday interactions and having conversations with the locals. That's why I joined sports practices, participated in events, and traveled! Studying abroad in France was such an amazing experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"I took a lot of French credits abroad, but more importantly, having all of my classes taught in French really helped my listening skills."

How did this experience impact you academically?

Because one of my majors is French, this program helped me fulfill a lot of academic requirements. I took a lot of French credits abroad, but more importantly, having all of my classes taught in French really helped my listening skills. There are not as many chances to speak in French classes, so you really end up practicing your speaking skills outside the classroom. I also got to experience the French school system, which is very different from ours, so it was really interesting to make that comparison.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I'm considering working in government or an international think tank or as a translator. While my future career plans are not set at this point, I am so glad I studied abroad because one of my short-term goals was to become fluent in another language. While I cannot say that I am completely fluent after my experience, I know that I am leaps and bounds closer. Living the language is the only option to become fluent in a foreign language.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend studying abroad. It's an amazing chance to step out of your own world and to see things from a slightly different perspective. While France is also a western country, I found that there are still so many differences between French culture and American culture. It's also a great chance to do some traveling, for any avid travelers out there!

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