CORONAVIRUS UPDATES: Select the "more info" link for coronavirus-related resources and updates for Liberal Arts students, faculty, and staff. More info >
Study Abroad in Montpellier, France
Up one level
Ellie Farber

Liberal Arts Majors: Economics, French and Francophone Studies, History
Minor: Jewish Studies
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Experience Time: Spring 2020

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

I studied abroad in Montpellier, which is a small city in the south of France. During the program, I took classes at the University of Paul Valéry, which is a local university, as well as in the University of Minnesota Program Center. Additionally, I stayed with a host mom who taught me about French culture, and I was able to be fully immersed in the French language.

"...my time in France allowed me to experience living in France and helped me develop important skills that will be useful in any career."

How did this experience impact you academically?

Before going abroad, I was not confident in my French language abilities but knew that I wanted to get better, specifically with speaking and understanding the language. All of my classes were in French, and I also stayed with a host mom who only spoke to me in French, so I was fully immersed in the language. It was challenging at times, especially at the beginning when I wasn't as confident with speaking, but after a while I noticed that speaking was easier and my comprehension was significantly better. Without being fully immersed in the language, I do not think I would have improved as quickly as I did while in France.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Although I'm still unsure of what I would like to pursue after graduation, my time in France allowed me to experience living in France and helped me develop important skills that will be useful in any career. Through navigating the daily grèves (strikes) that shut down classes or the trams, as well as other things like setting up my phone plan in French, I was challenged every day and developed valuable problem-solving skills. Additionally, living in France and improving with the language made me more interested in pursuing a program like TAPIF or Fulbright in a Francophone country after I graduate.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of the Liberal Arts has been immensely helpful in helping me succeed in this experience. I learned about the program from Heather McCoy, who discussed all of my options and helped me find the program that was right for me. Additionally, my French professors helped prepare me for being immersed in the language, as I know my time in France would have been much more difficult if I did not have the background in the language that I had.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows helped make the experience more affordable through grants, and they also helped me see how this experience could affect other areas of my academics, such as my thesis. Before being sent home due to COVID-19, I was planning on extending my trip to visit archives in Paris and Aix-en-Provence for my thesis. Although I was not able to complete this research in France, I will still complete it online and have developed an interest in pursuing research abroad, possibly after the pandemic or during graduate school.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
Return to Top