By LAURA HUMBLE – STAFF WRITER
Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding and unique experiences a Centre student can have. From Strasbourg to Shanghai to Glasgow to the Yucatan, Centre students can experience a myriad of cultures conveniently, immersing themselves in an environment they have never experienced before.
The Cento recently caught up with junior Annie Wolff, a Studio Art and French double major, currently studying abroad in the Centre-in-Strasbourg program. She was more than happy to answer some questions based on her initial experience of what it is like to be thrown into a completely different culture.
Q: What are your initial impressions of Strasbourg?
A: Strasbourg is a beautiful city, and there always seems to be something fun happening just around the corner. So far, I have encountered only pleasant, helpful people who, thankfully, don’t make fun of me for my broken French. The classroom is located just around the corner from Strasbourg’s medieval quarter, and it never fails to shock me how ancient everything in Europe is.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: In the mornings, I wake up and have breakfast with my home-stay mother, and we chat about our days in French. Then, in the afternoon, I have class for several hours, where I learn about the European Union, the molecular makeup of Modernist paintings, or the history of Northern art. For dinner, I either return to my home-stay or go to one of the other students’ apartments and we try to make something to eat.
Q: Do you have to be fluent in French to live in Strasbourg?
A: It certainly helps to know some French when you move here, but my friends who came here knowing almost no French have already been picking up some words and have been finding their way around with ease. Also, the people have been very friendly and patient, and many of them have taken the time to teach me words I didn’t already know!
Q: What is the biggest difference in culture that you’ve noticed so far?
A: Adjusting to city life has been a bit of a difficulty. In Danville, I am always surprised if someone doesn’t say hello, or at least look at me. In the middle of a bustling city, though, people just want to keep walking without interruption. Sometimes, I have to remind my smiley, American self where I am.
Q: Do you have a favorite part of Strasbourg yet?
A: Right now, my favorite part of Strasbourg is le Petit France. It’s the most picturesque part of the city and it looks like it came straight off a Christmas card.
Q: Why did you choose this program?
A: I’ve taken French for almost six years now, so it’s gratifying to finally be able to speak the language on a regular basis. I’m living in the home of an adorable French woman who is helping me get my French back into shape. Also, since Strasbourg is so centrally located in Europe, the program offers tons of opportunities to travel to places I’ve never been.
Q: What is the hardest part about studying abroad?
A: You have to do a lot of walking! If you don’t bring good shoes, you’re definitely going to have aching feet.
Q: What is the most enjoyable aspect of studying abroad?
A: So far, I’ve loved my home-stay mother. She is so friendly and obliging, and she has been so gracious to let me stay with her. She’s from Paris, though, so sometimes I have to remind her to slow down her speech so I can understand what she’s saying!
Q: What would you say to a student who’s thinking about studying abroad?
A: I would say definitely go for it! If you want to find out what the world is like, there is no better way than seeing for yourself. Plus, it’s a blast!