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Learning Abroad Opens Doors

May 16, 2019

French minor Anika Hauk knew she wanted to study in France. That dream became a reality in fall 2018 when she spent a semester in Montpellier. This experience helped her improve her speaking skills and gave her the confidence to explore international career opportunities.

What was your study abroad experience like?

I spent the fall 2018 semester in Montpellier, a college town on the French Riviera. I took five classes at Université Paul-Valéry and all of them were in French. I chose to stay with a host family to get as much language-learning experience as possible. I spoke French daily with my host family and any time I went to a restaurant or café.

How has the experience of studying another language affected your personal life, education, and career trajectory?

Studying French is a favorite hobby of mine, so it made sense for me to have it as a minor. Career-wise, it opens up more possibilities for me as I have more ability to work abroad or work with others across the globe. In general, studying French language and culture makes me feel more like a citizen of the world, giving me an easy way to glimpse into the perspectives of different types of people.

Aside from the language immersion piece, what I value most out of my time learning abroad is the experience I had as a foreigner. Because of this I understand a little better what exchange students at UMN are going through. Before I went to France I didn’t really think about that.

What advice would you give to other students who are considering learning abroad?

Try to know as much about yourself as possible before choosing housing. I chose a host family thinking that was the only way to get to practice my French, even though I knew it’d be hard for me to live with a family, as I’m very independent and live spontaneously. I wish I would have known that there are other opportunities, such as internships, conversation hours, everyday life, and classes, that all give you lots of practice too!

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.