A conversation between OCS and Dr. Florence Jurney, Chair of the French Department, about studying abroad in the Francophone world.
OCS: If you could study abroad (again) where would you go and why?
Dr. Jurney: I would go to Denmark or to Italy. I have always been fascinated by these two countries and would love to learn more foreign languages!
OCS: How do you think the policy that all French majors must study abroad contributes to the overall internationalization of the Gettysburg campus?
Dr. Jurney: Any student who studies abroad comes back changed in some way: you cannot spend 4 months abroad and come back the same! You have gained at the very least an awareness... the fact that there is something else beyond the US borders and that these people are, in many ways, like you: they eat, drink, sleep, think, fall in love.... So when students come back and you put all these experiences on campus, there is a global awareness that was not there before. Students start searching for others who have been abroad, who have felt what they felt, who got frustrated where they got frustrated etc.
OCS: What is one piece of critical advice you would give to a student preparing for a semester abroad?
Dr. Jurney: Read some books about culture shock, culture differences etc. Go online and read and answer the questions on http://www.pacific.edu/sis/culture/
OCS: What do you think students can do once they are abroad to make significant improvements in their French language skills?
Dr. Jurney: Stay with French people!!!! Check out the travels, activities, sports etc. that the local students do and sign up with them. The only way to make French friends is to socialize with them!
OCS: What advice would you give to a student who was deciding between a semester in France and a semester in Francophone Africa?
Dr. Jurney: They need to decide what they are interested in culturally: metropolitan France and any Francophone African country are VERY different!
OCS: Do you see a difference in students who have returned from abroad in terms of their contributions in the classroom and if so how?
Dr. Jurney: They have a tacit understanding of some cultural keys needed to read or understand a text in context. They don't need to be "told", they "understand."
OCS: How can students integrate what they have done abroad within the French department once they are back at Gettysburg?
Dr. Jurney: They need to meet with the others who have been abroad. They also need to meet with the Chair of the department with any ideas regarding the creation of a space or a forum where they could feel comfortable being their new them! Surely, some of the ideas can be implemented!