Gburg Abroad, Part 5: Valerie Carroll ’15 studies in post-revolution Tunisia
More than half of Gettysburg students spend at least one semester studying off-campus. In 2013, the Institute of International Education recognized this commitment to engaged learning when it ranked the College 5th in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for mid-length (one semester) duration study abroad. Over the past 10 years, Gettysburg has been ranked within the top 20 institutions in this same category.
Last year, 346 Gettysburg students studied abroad in 33 countries—including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Morocco, the Netherlands, Argentina, Ghana, and Greece. In this five-part series, five students share their off-campus studies stories, and how these experiences have helped to alter their perceptions and reshape their goals as they plan for their lives on campus and beyond.
While at Gettysburg, I’ve taken a number of courses in French and Francophone studies as well as courses in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. I’m also a globalization studies major with a focus on women, gender, and immigration. As I planned to study abroad, I looked for programs in countries that offered these languages and cultural studies, and the combination of these two programs (SIT Tunisia and IAU Aix-en-Provence) allowed me to trace the paths of immigrants from the Maghreb into France.
On the program:
Everyone in the SIT Tunisia program takes a set of core courses that provide a background in the 2011 revolution and its effects. These courses included Arab Spring and Emerging Identities in North Africa; Youth, Media, and Social Movements; and Research Methods and Ethics. I also took Tunsie and Intermediate Arabic language.
On staying with a host family:
I sat in on a lot of discussions about the future of Tunisia and its politics. Post-revolution, everyone is constantly talking about politics and their opinions in the open—especially since now they are free to do so without fear. My host family was so open and sharing, and I got to spend nights looking at pictures with them, talking about their adventures, or yelling at the football match on TV.
My homestay also exposed me to everyday trilingual+ conversations. I had been so used to thinking in terms of “speaking French” vs. “speaking English,” and that mixing the two is lazy. Living with my host family, I realized that this mindset is ridiculous. Every day I witnessed my host sister speak Tunsie to my host dad, who would reply in Tunsie, then switch to French, throw in some Arabic, drop an Italian word, and then explain anything I missed in English. And this would happen every day—whether the conversation was about their dissatisfaction with the National Assembly or the fish my host dad liked the best. My homestay afforded me so much comfort in just expressing myself with any words I had, which actually tremendously improved my French and Arabic without that fear of using the wrong word.
On her independent study:
For my independent study project, I looked into a semi-underground, post-revolution, all-women's LGBT group called “Chouf.” The group only existed online as a mention in an interview, and had no official page or contact info. I connected with them through ridiculous strings of luck, which was probably the highlight of my experience abroad. The group’s founders are college-aged and were so kind in offering the fascinating story of how “Chouf” was founded. My project focused on highlighting this group and their efforts, goals, and issues, and also explores their view on the status of LGBT individuals and the community in Tunisia post-2011 revolution.
Follow our five-part series on off-campus studies experiences to learn about a student athlete who earned two scholarships to study in Japan, a student who immersed herself in the history and complexity of Israel through a semester in Jerusalem, a psychology student who chose a Washington, D.C., program to gain experience in nonprofit work, and a sophomore’s participation in an elite classical studies program in Rome.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Jamie Yates, director of communications and media relations, 717.337.6801
Article by Christine Shanaberger
Posted: Wed, 19 Nov 2014
Next on your reading list
Share this story: