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Josephine Fallon on UMD-Summer: France

"Try to balance your background with understanding cultural differences and being flexible."

Program‚ÄčUMD-Summer: France (FREN)
Term: Summerterm 2022
Major: Government & Politics - International Relations 

Study abroad opened my mind to a new culture and provided me international experience that helped me improve my language skills first hand. 

I met so many new people within my minor program at UMD through being abroad with them, as well as became very close to the professor who traveled with us. I can also use this experience to help my professional career because it gave me practical knowledge about a country of importance to the US as well as gave me practice speaking with native French speakers.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

Try to balance your background with understanding cultural differences and being flexible. For example as a strict vegetarian, it was important for me to balance my dietary needs with trying to respect the native eating habits and cultural norms.

My most memorable experience while abroad was definitely the day to day lifestyles of living with my host family and going to school. 

It exposed me to different habits, points of view, and cultures, not only of the French family I lived with, but also the other international students who attending the same French institute.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad:  

I would definitely tell people that study abroad is definitely possible- if you go for a whole year or even just in the summer or winter, there are so many different programs that there is absolutely the right one out there for you. Do your research and explore your options!

Something I did not anticipate about studying abroad was how different cultural norms around women are, because there were times when I felt more unsafe than in the US. 

I would have men come up to me to try and talk to me, and I noticed the different domestic gender norms despite my abroad experience being in a quite developed country. It can be a hard pill to swallow, and something I definitely take for granted in the US. My best advice would be to keep your confidence in your values and use it as motivation to explore the situation when you return home.

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