As a part of my internship, through the International Agriculture Certificate Program, I am completing a month-long internship/work placement in France. Being a student working towards their French minor and having studied the language for over 6 years, I didn’t really feel much fear when embarking on this trip. I have found that studying a language for years is quite different than speaking it and actually being immersed in the culture.
I currently am participating in a UGA Exchange, at UniLaSalle, where I have completed a month of studies at their campus in Beauvais, France and am now working on completing a month of work-placement/internship on a medicinal herbs and plants farm in Mognéville, France (about 2 and a half hours East of Paris). Being at UniLaSalle, I was surrounded by 7 other students like me, students studying abroad from universities in the U.S., meaning other fluent English speakers. Before leaving to come to my work-placement, I was informed that the host family I would be staying with only spoke French. For me, this was both exciting and a little nerve wracking. At the beginning of this program, I felt fairly confident in my French speaking skills, having practiced in a classroom for a while, but would I be able to speak only French and fluent French for a month?
Upon arrival, I felt a mix of fear and excitement, not truly knowing what to expect. For one, I would be living in a camper van for a month, and additionally, I would only be around native-French speakers. Could I handle this? Having been here already for a couple of weeks, I can confirm that my irrational fears were just that, irrational. I have been welcomed with kindness and enthusiasm by my host family and have truly experienced some of the best experiences of my life while I’ve been here. Not only have I made new connections and learned more about the French language and culture, but I have learned about farming and the different medicinal properties of different plants and all that goes into cultivating them.
Although I was initially a bit nervous for this trip, I am so grateful to be on it and for everything that I have learned. From my little camper van, to my acquisition of knowledge about the French language and culture, I can truly say that this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.