Name: Matthew
Major: English
Minor: French
Program: IES
Where: Paris
When: Fall 2006
Favorite Course: History of French Art 1750-1900
Highlight: Jardin du Luxembourg
Favorite Dish: Duck
Least Favorite Dish: Fois Gras


Describe your living situation.

The program set up housing with a host family during my semester abroad. For any student studying in a country where a foreign language is spoken, I highly recommend this. I took breakfast in morning in their kitchen, and depending on the day, was able to talk with various members of the family before each of us started our respective days. In the evening I would return to the apartment, where I had my own room. If my door was open, a member of the family would occasionally stop in and see how I was doing or talk with me for a while. When my door was closed, they respected my privacy. Twice a week in the evening, I had dinner with the entire family. The French dinner is quite an experience, and it was an opportunity to taste cuisine at its finest, and also practice the French I had learned that day. The family was extremely nice and accommodating. I would have to say that living with them vastly enriched my immersion into the French language and culture.

How did you fund your study abroad experience?

Studying abroad with a non-Temple program required filling out a consortium agreement in order to transfer my Temple scholarships, grants, and financial aid to the host program. In addition, I applied for and received an International Programs Global Scholarship which helped ease the cost of a semester abroad. For the rest of the funds required, I took out a small signature student loan which I will be required to pay as soon as I graduate. As for pocket money abroad, I worked throughout the summer to afford the relatively high living costs in Paris. Financing the semester took a great deal of forethought and budgeting, but was ultimately worth the effort.

How was the experience of studying the language in the classroom prior to studying abroad different from studying the language in and outside of the classroom once you were abroad?

Studying in high school and college prior to my experience abroad was frustrating and unfulfilling. My progress in French was slow, and any progress I did make was so subtle I could not detect it. Also, my French classes in the U.S. tended to focus on a strictly grammatical approach to the language and involved mostly pedagogical vocabulary. My experience in France allowed me to learn, and then constantly practice, words and phrases one uses every day. I was surprised by how much I didn't know how to say in French upon my arrival (for example, words like ‘sink’ and ‘trash can’ and phrases such as ‘doing the laundry’ and ‘have a good day’). By contrast, while I still have plenty of room for improvement, I feel for the first time confident in employing my second language and my newly acquired vocabulary and grammar from abroad.