Highlighted Student of the Month – October

Lili Johnston

Major(s): Finance and French

Semester Abroad: Fall 2017, junior year

Program: Institute for Field Education, Field Studies Program, Paris, France

Why did you want to study abroad?

I wanted to go abroad because of my interest in traveling, to learn more about French culture, and to advance my French language skills in an immersive environment.

Does French society have any major differences to the United States? Was it challenging to adapt to the differences?

I think most people think that Western Europe and France are similar to the U.S., and they are in many ways given that they’re both some of the world’s most developed countries. However, they are still very different and I faced many daily challenges that I don’t face here in the U.S. It was challenging to adapt to the differences, but I also went abroad because I wanted to be challenged.

Would you recommend your program & country to those interested in studying abroad?

I would say that my program isn’t for a student who wants a light-hearted experience abroad. The classes were long and hard, there were a lot of educational field trips, I was working full-time at my internship while taking night class, and had to write a 30 page dissertation. That being said, I loved the immersive nature of the program. My French improved so much, and the challenging nature meant that I matured and grew so much and gained immense self confidence. Looking back, I’m somewhat glad I chose such a challenging, demanding program; even though I had to struggle in the short term, it means that I have gained skills that will last forever.

What new skills or strengths did you gain while abroad?

How to deal with uncertainty, how to make the best of what you have, independence, and learning how to spend time alone.

How has study abroad impacted and added to your college experience?

Studying abroad has infinitely added to my college experience. I can tackle my French classes with ease, and my cultural sensitivity and I’ve been able to apply the experience I gained from my internship in the U.S. Trade Department at the U.S. Embassy in Paris to my business coursework. I think my experience abroad has impacted my life beyond college, as my international business experience and foreign language skills have been attractive to employers. Those are tangible impacts, but the more intangible impacts, such as the amount I grew and the experiences I gained, have also been great, too.

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