Location: Bowdoin / French / Study Away / Ryan Larochelle '13

French

Ryan Larochelle '13

My junior fall in Poitiers, France was an adventurous, challenging, and tremendously fulfilling experience.  I lived in a French dormitory that was half French students and half international students (though only 1 other American), and I spent most of my time with my French neighbors.  I cooked and ate dinner with them most nights and went out with them on the weekends.  At the University of Poitiers, I directly enrolled in History, Literature, and Translation courses alongside other French students.  These courses, while at times very difficult, improved my French competency significantly.  In addition to my coursework and spending time with French friends, I volunteered weekly on the pediatric ward of a hospital by playing games with sick children.  I'm so glad I decided to seek out this volunteer position, as it made me feel more engaged in French society and challenged me to move beyond my comfort zone.  In my free time, I enjoyed playing in a tennis league, going for long runs around the city, and walking through the city's many historical and cultural sites.

Throughout the program I travelled around France with other program participants, our student host, and some of my French friends from the dorm.  In total, I visited 12 French cities, from the bright lights of Paris to the picturesque landscape of Cognac to the caves and chateaux in Dordogne.  Traveling throughout France and learning about French culture and history helped me to contextualize my French education and provided many incredible experiences.  When I return to France (hopefully soon!), I will have lifelong friends in several different regions to visit.  

For students on the fence about studying abroad in France, my advice is to go!  These were the most exciting and enriching months of my life, and you will without a doubt have experiences you will remember for the rest of your life.