Suzanne Kane, Orléans, France, 2022-2023
I’m Suzanne, and I am a Donaghey Scholars Program student studying French in France this semester thanks to a partner program between UA Little Rock and the University of Orléans. I’ve been in France for about a month, and so far it has been an incredible experience. I’m living with a host family who is very nice, and it’s a really different experience from living in the dorms. My favorite part of studying abroad has been meeting all of the other students in my classes. Everyone comes from a different part of the world, and everyone speaks multiple languages, and that was something I could not easily find in the United States.
Another important aspect to mention is that my French is improving greatly. I am actually using my skills with native French speakers, and talking with them is very exciting. My goal is to become a future translator and/or interpreter, and living here in Orléans is definitely becoming an important part of my journey towards that goal.
The town itself is about an hour outside of Paris by train, and there is always something going on here. Every weekend there is an event of some sort, and there are events for almost any interest or hobby you could possibly have. I have really enjoyed the mix of both tourist and French aspects in the city. My host home is in the downtown area, so each day I pass by the train station, which includes a mall and many little downtown shops and restaurants. There are the signs of globalization like McDonalds, Starbucks and other American chains, but there’s also lots of authentic French businesses too. I brought my roller skates here with me, and I have greatly enjoyed roller skating around the city and on the trail that runs alongside the Loire river.
I know a lot of people worry about assimilation into a new culture during their time studying abroad. I do not want to make it sound easy, it has been an anxious and overwhelming process at times. Adjusting to military time, metric measurements, and the culture here has taken time. However, after one month here, I can say that I am finally beginning to feel like I fit in with everyone.
One final aspect I need to mention that I don’t see talked about nearly enough is the missing of family and friends while abroad. I’m not talking about homesickness necessarily, I love living here and I do not want to leave. However, I do miss my friends and family everyday, and I wish I could bring all of them over here to France to experience this amazing country with me. It is hard to keep working here and knowing that I still have 8 more months left until I return to the United States and see anyone in person again. Technology of course is very helpful. I FaceTime some people regularly and chat daily with others, but there will always be a small fracture in my heart, wishing I could have everyone I love in one place, instead of having them spread across the northern hemisphere. But alas, that is the common struggle of every international student at university here.
That should not deter you from studying abroad, as any journey away from home will consist of those feelings. However, it is important to be prepared for it and have a plan for how to process those emotions. Studying abroad has been a great decision for me, I’ve made new friends and discovered another wonderful city to love. This is my first time outside of the United States, and I really hope that it will be nowhere near my last.