French culture has always been an important aspect of my life. This passion was instilled in me by my mother who raised me with a certain respect for the culture and language. She herself studied abroad during college and spent many summers with our French cousins growing up. For the time being, my mother is the only French speaker on our side of the family and is the only person keeping up the relationship with our cousins. It has always been a dream of mine to learn French and carry on the legacy of my mother. Another point of great interest to me is to learn more about my family history. My great grandmother, who was born and raised in France has fascinated and intrigued me to learn more about my own heritage in that region.
When I was a junior in high school, I studied abroad in France for one short month. Although I did stay with a family, my rudimentary French skills at the time and my host familyâ€™s desire to practice their English greatly interfered with my learning of the language. However, what I did get out of the experience was a taste of the pleasures and the frustrations that are inevitable while visiting a foreign country. Also, I feel that I have been fortunate in that I have already had the opportunity to briefly immerse myself in their culture. What I realized upon my return was that I would need to go back and study abroad in college for a more substantial amount of time in order to accomplish my goal of speaking French with ease and confidence.
In France, just like any other foreign country, I know that there will be struggles and rewards along with the experience. I anticipate struggles such as the language barrier and cultural differences that might cause misunderstandings, especially in the home of my host family. I have learned that sitting back and not asking questions can lead to even bigger misunderstandings and hurt feelings. In order to minimize these inevitable problems, I am determined to go into this experience with an open mind and to never be afraid to ask questions when I donâ€™t understand certain behaviors.