Anna Troyansky '06

Anna Troyansky

Anna Troyansky '06

Major: French
Hometown: Lubbock, Texas

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
During my college search, I realized that I wanted a small liberal arts college that provides its students a solid academic curriculum, many extracurricular opportunities, and a dynamic social life. For me, Bowdoin fit this description. In terms of my studies, I was drawn to Bowdoin for its strong Environmental Studies Program and its location relatively close to Quebec where I could speak French every once in a while. It was also a plus that Maine was about as far away as I could get from west Texas while staying in the United States. I was excited to start afresh here at a school that no one from my hometown had ever attended and that most people I knew had never heard of. Still, the area was somewhat familiar to me since I have extended family in New England, helping make me more comfortable in the transition.

Why did you choose your major?
I have been interested in French ever since I lived in France for two and a half years as a child. An appreciation for the language and the culture was thus instilled in me at a young age and so it is not much of a surprise that I am a French major. Majoring in a language that I already spoke pretty fluently was not an easy way out of meeting requirements. Instead, the French courses at Bowdoin are not just centered on grammar and learning to speak, an area in which I had an advantage, but are instead wide reaching and include analysis of French and Francophone literature, cinema, culture, and media. I enjoy reading, writing, speaking, and listening to French, and being able to incorporate that into my academic pursuits is very satisfying. Being a French major also gave me the opportunity to spend a full year studying abroad in France while all my courses worked towards the major.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
It is difficult to choose only one course, but my current French senior seminar titled "Writing Corporeality in France," and taught by Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Katherine Dauge-Roth, is turning out to be one of the best classes I have taken at Bowdoin. Comprising just seniors, the level of French is quite high and people tend to be more comfortable speaking than they do in some other language classes. Dealing with literature, philosophy, and art from many different periods, all revolving around the subject of the body, is a different approach to a French class and it makes for engaging, wide-ranging discussions. Another class that I found especially interesting was Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Jill Pearlman's course on "City and Landscape in Modern Europe." Never before having taken a history class at Bowdoin, this interdisciplinary course between the environmental studies program and history department required me to take a different approach to topics with which I was relatively familiar. I was particularly drawn to this class since I had visited a few of the cities we covered with while I was abroad.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I am currently working on an honors project in the French department with Professor Katherine Dauge-Roth on French fairytales and folktales. I was inspired by a class I took while studying abroad in which we analyzed the structure of tales of Grimm and Perrault, and I decided to continue such studies back here while taking a bit of a different approach. Using many versions of a certain type of story in which parents abandon their children in the forest, widely-known through the version of Hansel and Gretel of the brothers Grimm, I am exploring the relationship between popular oral versions of the tales, collected by folklorists in the 19th and 20th centuries, and literary versions that, in France, began with the vogue at the end of the 17th century. Reading and analyzing so many stories is a lot of fun, a crucial element that makes such a time-intensive project enjoyable and worthwhile.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
My first semester at Bowdoin, I worked in the dining hall, cutting vegetables and serving food; though I did not continue that work for long, I did get to know the staff who works there and I have tried to remain loyal to them by eating most meals at Moulton. After that experience, I got involved in theater and worked in the costume shop and as part of the stage crew, running lights and sound and working the fly rail during performances. I also was involved in some Masque and Gown productions during my freshman and sophomore years. Since then, I have worked for Events and Summer Programs. I work for them year-round, and I spent two summers on campus as intern and then as head intern, coordinating conferences, camps and events that use campus facilities while students are gone. Bowdoin has a very different feel to during the summertime and there is much more time than during the regular academic year to get to know the area. Throughout my time at Bowdoin, I have also tutored through the Portland Housing Authority, a volunteer program where we go down to Portland once a week to work with junior high and high school students (mostly immigrants) with their homework, whether it be in math, science, history, English or Latin.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad during my entire junior year through the Hamilton College Junior Year in France program. After a brief orientation in the coastal town of Biarritz in the south of France, we went to Paris where we lived with host families; I was housed with a very welcoming older woman whose grandchildren would visit every once in a while. I attended a couple classes through my study abroad program, which familiarized me with the Paris theater scene and architectural history, but I took most of my literature and linguistics courses at the Parisian universities alongside French students. Being in the French school system has a totally different atmosphere from the academic character of Bowdoin, and I grew to appreciate both systems. Being in Europe, I took advantage of many opportunities to travel, whether it was in France on weekend trips with HCJYF or trips during vacations to Italy, Prague, Stockholm, Switzerland and Scotland. It was a wonderful year and I am very happy that I took the full year, as a semester would not have been long enough to fully immerse myself.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
One of the moments I remember the most clearly and very fondly was going skating on the quad late one night during freshman year. After hanging out in our dorm for most of the evening, a bunch of friends from our tight-knit proctor group decided it would be a good idea to go out on the ice in sneakers since most of us did not own skates yet. This entailed a lot of slipping and helping each other up, and forming a chain to support everyone as we went back and forth from one end of the ice to the other. That night, we became especially close, and this group of friends is for the most part still intact even as we finish up our Bowdoin careers.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to teach, preferably using my French and preferably at the primary school level. I am still in the midst of organizing for next year, but I intend to be an assistant teacher in English somewhere in France - a position offered through the French government. Upon returning to the United States, I will either get teaching certification or try to find a job in a private school teaching French. Perhaps I will eventually get a Masters in Education or French or even Linguistics, but for now I am leaving it open to see where next year leads me.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Most importantly, branch out and explore! Don't be afraid to try something new. College is a time to figure out who you are and what your interests are, and you will grow so much over these four years if you don't limit yourself. The Bowdoin experience is not just about classes; strive for a good balance between academics and a social life. Meet people and do not be too quick to judge others since there are so many interesting people on campus. In passing, say hi to people you don't even know. This is something many seniors remember when first coming to Bowdoin and is sometimes forgotten. Try to bring back "the Bowdoin Hello"!

Story posted on May 09, 2006

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