Study abroad

We strongly encourage majors and minors in French to study abroad, and we support the goals of those who are interested in business, government, sociology, etc., where the need for individuals competent in foreign languages is increasing constantly. We believe such students should study a foreign language at least through FRE-251 and then spend a semester abroad taking courses in their area of specialization. French students are encouraged to participate in approved programs in Dijon, Nantes, Paris, Bamako, Fort Dauphin Antanarivo and Dakar.

Contact Jill Fischer at the Center for International and Cultural Education

SIT - Study Abroad

Gusties Exploring France

Molly Gillen - Montpellier, France

Molly Montpellier familleAli et moi My name is Molly Gillen and I am a senior Psychology and French double major.  Last semester I studied abroad in Montpellier, France.  Montpellier is located in the south-eastern part of France, near the Mediterranean Sea.  I chose to study in Montpellier because I wanted the chance to improve my language skills and learn about French culture in a smaller city full of college students.

For housing, I chose to live with a host family.  My host mother was 64 and a retired psychologist.  As it was just the two of us, we have lots of time for discussion during meals and I learned a lot from her.  During the semester, I took five classes at the Université Paul-Valéry and one online class.  The education system was a completely different experience from the U.S. and all of my classes are in French.  Although it was hard adjustment at first, it taught me how to challenge myself and adapt quickly to new situations.

I did a lot of travelling around France, as well as other European countries.  One of my most unique travel experiences was when I took a ferry over to the island of Corsica and stayed there for a week with my family.  I also enjoyed seeing the beautiful sights in Switzerland and Italy!  Studying abroad was such a wonderful experience.  I grew so much, not only as a student, but also as a person.  I would definitely advise students to study abroad at some point during their time here at Gustavus!

La Corse table Monaco

Eric Halvorson - Nantes, France


Not only have I been greatly changed by my experience in France, but I left a great deal of myself there, rooted to places and people which will forever be a part of me. Academically, I have experienced the rigor of the French education system. I have memorized more dates than I ever thought I could. I have raised my French abilities far above what they were before my travels. I was never before able to pick up a book in French and read it for pleasure, but am now enjoying Harry Potter in French here at home.

On a societal level, I now believe myself to have a firm grasp on the political attitudes and trends of French thought and policy. I understand their decisions from their perspectives, and have come to see what is different where I once saw what was worse. Whether or not my career in the political field requires such knowledge, my study has itself enriched me as a person, and student.

When asked to write my goals at the beginning of the semester, I could not have been more lofty or cheesy. “I want to install myself in France so that France may install itself in me.” Yet, as the train pulled me out of Nantes away from the face of my host mother in the station, and as the tears pooled and flowed down my face, it became clear that I was being wrenched away from something that had indeed become a part of me. I succeeded. I improved my French, an accomplishment noted both by myself and my host parents. I learned about the culture, politics, and perspective of France. I fell in love with the food, and (almost more importantly) the way it is eaten. And I drew lines connecting myself and all of the places, people, and things that came into my life while living there.

There is no experience in my life that can compare to my semester abroad in France. I now have another home in the world. Nantes, France not only became a home because of the place and the experience, but because of the welcome of the warmest host family for which I could have ever dreamed. My host parents assured me that I would be welcome back whenever I wish, and for however long I wish. Over the semester of laughs and questions and advice, our bond became as strong as their welcome was warm.

church elephant

There is also a political and social aspect of my travel that cannot be ignored. When we study abroad, we create deep lines and connections that matter not just to us, but to the world. The relationship between two countries is just the sum of the relationships between the citizens of those two countries. This is why I believe study abroad is one of the greatest contributions to peace and understanding in the world. I have another home in France, and it is because there are so many like me that France and the United States enjoy the relationship we have, despite some ideological differences.But the less we have traveled somewhere and met its people, the easier it is to forget their humanity. When someone donates to study abroad, they not only enrich the lives of those people who travel, they contribute to peace between all Peoples.

To those who are preparing to pay for study abroad, take full advantage of the summer beforehand. Once you arrive at your destination, one of the most important things to do is walk in the streets with the people. Get lost. Watch the motion. Get into the taste of life in that place, the look of its citizens, and the thrum of its culture. To get to know a place, you have to walk in the street with its people. This is at the same time one of the cheapest and richest things we can do during a study abroad experience.