Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
Bonjour à tous!
My name is Anthony Papastrat. I am a Junior Drama major here at CUA and am currently studying abroad in Paris, France. Why did I choose Paris? It’s quite simple; the food. In addition to the food, I choose Paris because I studied French for four semesters at CUA and had never left the United States before. I wanted to go somewhere where I could speak another language, be introduced to a new culture, and be able to come back to the United States to share my experiences and what I had learned.
The first and most important piece of advice that I can give to someone who wants to study abroad in a non-English speaking country is to study, study, study the language. Don’t think that just because you’re going to a major city somewhere in the world that everyone will be able to speak English. You must have a strong understanding of the language so that you no longer translate everything in English that you hear or speak. You should hear, speak, and dream in the language of that country. After you have accomplished that the rest is easy.
As for a brief history of my time thus far, my class took an overnight trip to Normandy at the start of the program where we visited Omaha beach and other locations. I found that Normandy was very calm; ironic considering the massive battles that happened there. All of the classes that I am taking are entirely in French and taught by mostly native French speakers. This reinforces the point that you must thoroughly understand the language before you study abroad. Don’t expect the professors to know the English equivalent for every word, but always ask questions!
The food is indescribably good. My host once explained to me that the cheese we were eating was illegal in the United States as it was not pasteurized. She rightfully made the point that in the United States a large amount of our food has GMOs and preservatives. I digress…If you study abroad, specifically in Europe, you will notice an immense change in the quality of the food.
Most of the students in my program are American, but I met a few French students at a university and was sure to make immediate friends with them. If you ever have the chance to be friends with a native speaker of the language in your country, they are your best friend. You must try to spend more time with them than with other American students. By spending time with locals, you will be forced to speak the language and gain an even deeper understanding of the culture. You should always agree to every opportunity offered to you in your program. Go to the conversation hours, all of the guided trips to museums and different quarters of the city, wine tastings (if you are in France), sport matches, and concerts. Do anything that you physically and financially are capable of. Even though Paris is still one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can easily live here on a budget. For lunch, always look to see if there are university restaurants. Not only is the food extremely satisfying for the price, this is another golden opportunity to meet local students.
If I could only give the reader two important lessons after this more than in-depth description of my journey, it’s to try to master the language and take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. It’s true that studying abroad changes you, but it’s different for everyone depending on where they study and what they do. Studying abroad will make you appreciate many things about the United States as well as learn things that you would like to bring back with you and try to implement at home.
Merci pour votre attention!