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Interning in France

May 16, 2019

Senior Cecilia Pompeo spent her junior year, 2017-18, in Montpellier, France. Not only did she create amazing connections with her host family, but she also participated in two different internships that challenged her language skills and gave her professional experience abroad.

What was your learning abroad experience like?

I lived with a host family for the entire nine months. I spent most of my free time with my host parents; we played board games, went on hikes, watched movies, and even traveled to other parts of France to visit their relatives and spend holidays together. They did everything they could to make my experience as enriching and immersive as possible. I took classes during both fall and spring semesters at the University of Minnesota study abroad office in Montpellier and at Université Paul Valéry. I participated in an internship during my fall semester where I worked as an English language teaching assistant at a local middle school. I also served as an administrative services and translation intern during spring semester at a local engineering school, where I gathered course syllabus information from each department of the school to create a cumulative course catalog to be translated into English.

How did your scholarship impact your experience?

I received the Department of French & Italian Study Abroad Scholarship. This scholarship, along with the rest of my standard financial aid, made it possible for me to study abroad. I still had to budget carefully while abroad, but this scholarship made it so that I did not have to take out any loans. Above all, it eased the financial and somewhat emotional burden that can come with paying to study abroad. I am endlessly grateful for the fact that this and other scholarships exist!

What was the biggest takeaway from your learning abroad experience?

My biggest takeaway is that studying abroad is an experience that is hard to get at any other point in your life. No matter the obstacles, it will be so worth it to spend time living in another country and expanding your worldview. Studying abroad enhances the skills employers look for, like communication, collaboration, adaptability, and the ability to understand diverse perspectives. If you think you can’t study abroad because of financial reasons, because you’re in a STEM major, because you don’t have time, or for some other reason, I challenge you to look into those reasons, and I can almost guarantee that the Learning Abroad Center will still be able to help you find a way to study abroad. If applying to a program feels overwhelming, start out by attending an information session or talking to someone at the LAC. Any potential difficulty in the pre-study abroad process will be long forgotten once you are having the time of your life studying, working, and traveling in a different country and learning new skills. Again, it is something you will truly be glad you did.

This story is part of a larger article. Read more at Learning Without Borders.

This interview was conducted by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.