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 La Francophonie

Kalyna Rieland- Dakar, Senegal

Kalyna in Senegal    My name is Kalyna Rieland and I am a senior Psychology and French double major with pre-Occupational Therapy requisites. Last spring I had the honor of studying abroad in Senegal with the Minnesota Studies in International Development program through the University of Minnesota. 
As a French speaker since the age of 6, I grew up studying the francophone culture both in and outside of the classroom. I memorized les fables de Jean de la Fontaine, studied historical French landmarks and couldn’t get enough of the delicious cuisine. However, it wasn’t until my later high school years that my education of the francophone culture branched outside of hexagonal France. 
When I first came to Gustavus, I had my heart set on studying in Sweden. Our school had a strong Swedish heritage after all, it made sense to explore what the new & different Scandinavian culture had to offer! However, after consulting one of my favorite French professors, she so obviously pointed out that it was pointless to study abroad somewhere I couldn’t practice my French. She encouraged me to look into programs that brought me to Northern Africa, a thought that had never occurred to me before. 
So began my hunt for a program outside of Europe. I was hoping to find a program that not only gave me the opportunity to polish up the language I loved so much, but also exposed me to a vastly different culture with that familiar French influence. I ended up settling on Senegal because I was attracted to the program layout with its concentration in International Development.
Kalyna & host brothers       Senengal       Dakar   
I spent the first part of my trip in Dakar pursuing International Development courses with a concentration in Public Health, learning Wolof and spending time with my host family. After Spring Break hit, the whole MSID crew was scattered across Senegal during our internship phase. I was placed in Kaolack, a city four hours outside of Dakar, at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. I spent the next six weeks shadowing the staff who ran the malnutrition program, weighing babies from mango trees, facilitating appointment and medication purchases in the clinic and learning about the effective strategies and obstacles that made up the family planning system in Senegal. 
Kalyna3  weighing babies  
Looking back on my experience, I am so thankful I chose a more nontraditional route. I learned to thrive in the numerous uncomfortable situations I encountered, developed a powerful sense of vocational identity & self-confidence and instigated an invaluable sense of global citizenship. 
Kalyna    Kalyna2   

Caroline David- Montpellier, France

Caroline in Montpellier My name is Caroline David and I am a Honors Psychological Science and Religion double major. I graduated in May 2016. During the spring semester of my junior year, I studied abroad in Montpellier, France. 

I have heard French since I was a baby- my father is French and moved to the US when he was in his twenties. My entire paternal family still lives in France, so I was hoping to find a place to study abroad that would facilitate travel to visit everyone. 

The LAC program in Montpellier is organized by the University of Minnesota, but there were many students from the U, Penn State, and several liberal arts colleges in the US. This program was a perfect fit for me: they offered integrated classes with other French students (in which you are the only or one of very few Americans, as opposed to taking classes for only Americans), I could live with a host family, and Montpellier is a beautiful city in southern France that is conveniently about an hour by train from my grandparents :) 

Host Parents            Caroline's Room             Flowers

My host parents, Claude and Chantal, were integral to my experience in France. They were more than happy to correct my grammar and made delicious food. They also frequently had dinner guests, which allowed me to converse with many people with different accents about a wide variety of subjects (I can now talk about life insurance in French…handy). We had a lot of fun joking at dinner, making orange marmalade, watching the news, and even assembling Ikea furniture (always a relationship builder). 

Montpellier is home to a large number of international students, many of whom go to Université Paul Valery, where LAC students attend classes. I met students from other programs in the US as well as many European Erasmus students. I decided to take completely different classes from what I had been taking at Gustavus, including political science, 16th-18th century history of France, a class about immigration, grammar, academic writing, and sociology. It was an awesome continuation of my liberal arts education at Gustavus, and I learned about France in a deeper way than I had through my experiences with my French family. I learned about the election system, and even went with my host parents when they voted. I made friends with a cafeteria worker who asked me to translate a menu to prepare for a visit from American administrators. I learned about the French education system firsthand, and took my first oral exam for my history class. 

Le sud de France   Sud de France      la provence

When I wasn’t in class or hanging out with my host family, I spent a lot of time exploring sunny Montpellier. It’s an old city with rich history from the period of conflict between Catholics and Protestants. There are tons of shops and windy streets, delicious ice cream, and it’s sunny probably 300 days a year. 

I learned a lot about the world and myself during my time abroad. It was really refreshing to me to delve deeper into my love of France, beyond baguettes, family traditions, and chèvre. My time in France also inspired my senior religion thesis about the headscarf debate in France. Studying abroad really allowed me to embrace my independence, navigate new situations, and help me feel connected to all kinds of people