As both a leader and an alumna of study abroad programs, I am a strong advocate for the academic and personal benefits that studying abroad provides to young adults. In addition to giving students the opportunity to travel and learn about cultures much different from their own, studying abroad builds lifelong learners. Living with host families, chatting with locales, and taking courses abroad, students learn new languages and ways of communicating that build confidence and communication skills that serve them well throughout their lives. Experiencing another culture at a young age also helps shape students into global citizens, sensitive of other people and cultures’ beliefs, traditions, and heritages. Over the past thirteen years, my experiences abroad have solidified my commitment to academia, my role as a teacher, and my position as a study abroad specialist.
SMU-in-Paris Assistant Director and Program Assistant, 2009-2015
Starting in 2009, I was the Assistant Director and Program Assistant for Southern Methodist University’s summer program in Paris, SMU-in-Paris: History & Culture. For five weeks, students took two courses about France’s rich history, culture, art, and society. With the course “One King; One Law” students were introduced to the history of France from the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the Revolution. With “Orient and Occident,” students explored the interactions between France and the East, especially since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and in contemporary society. Students visited the great monuments of Paris including Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée Cluny, the Marais, La Sorbonne, the Latin Quarter, Les Invalides, the Grand Mosque, Place de la Concorde, and Versailles in class. To further supplement their knowledge of Renaissance France, we took a weekend trip to the Loire Valley and visit the magnificent châteaux of Ambois, Blois, Chambord, and Chenonceau.
As the Assistant Director and Program Assistant, I provided clerical and organizational support to the Faculty Director, Kathleen Wellman, and also acted as a liaison between students and the faculty. Living with the students at the FIAP Jean Monnet, I helped with their day-to-day lives and also organized cultural activities including educational tours to the gardens of Versailles, weekend trips to Giverny, and walking tours around Paris. Having lived in Paris and studied abroad there, I provided the students with anecdotes from history and my own travels of Paris.
I am an excellent study abroad leader and look forward to one day designing and leading my own study aboard program in France to introduce students to French history, culture, art, and life.
My History with Study Abroad
When I was sixteen years old, I knocked on history’s door at the Château de Langeais during my first trip to France. Entering this doorway to historical inquiry, I became “hooked.” The next year, I convinced my parents to let me attend a three-week summer language immersion program in Paris and Biarritz, France through Programs Abroad Travel Alternatives (now SPI Study Abroad). Living with host families in both cities, this immersion program gave me the confidence to speak French and be independent from my parents.
I spent the summer, fall, and spring semesters of my junior year studying abroad in Paris, France through Southern Methodist University. At their campus at Reid Hall in the sixth arrondissement of Paris, I was able to specialize my studies in history and the French language. With Alan Kahan I was introduced to archival research and early modern paleography, embarking on two independent research projects about Jansenist nuns. Working at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Archives Nationales as a junior helped prepare me both for graduate school and also to receive Departmental Distinction in History when I graduated.
In 2012-2013, I lived in Lyon and Paris to conduct archival research for my dissertation. Though not technically “studying” abroad, this experience greatly enhanced my appreciation for learning from other cultures and, of course, archival research.
Since 2009 I have served as the Assistant Director and Program Assistant to Southern Methodist University’s five-week summer program, SMU-in-Paris. My experiences studying abroad influenced me to pursue academia seriously.