Study Abroad Spotlight: Furman in Versailles

Hey guys, it’s Jackie! This week’s Study Abroad Spotlight is on the Furman faculty-led study abroad semester in Versailles, France through the Department of Modern Language and Literatures! I’ll focus on the experience Madison Drake, a junior at Furman, has had so far living in the sophisticated, romantic city of Paris.

This Furman study abroad program has been around for over forty years, teaching students how to live as a Parisian in one of the most historically significant places in the world. The program includes weekly visits to local sights, group field trips around France, and more. Students are immediately immersed in the French culture as they live with host families throughout the duration of the semester. Study French language, literature, culture, and architecture in the place where it was created.

Q & A

Q: Why did you choose this particular study abroad program?

Madison: When searching for study abroad programs, my number one goal was to be able to study in France. I have studied French for more than six years and knew I wanted to improve my French in hopes of becoming fluent someday. I also love French culture- the fashion, the music, the food, the way of life- I could go on and on! I contemplated searching for programs outside of Furman, but I quickly realized that I wanted a group of students similar to me to go on this journey with. I always knew about the Furman in Versailles program, but never really thought I would choose the program! To be honest, I didn’t know if I could live with a host family and be forced to speak French for most of my time! But after talking to the program directors and learning more about the program, I decided to take the plunge! I realized this would be the best program for me to improve my French and also be forced to go outside of my comfort zone.

Q: What is a day in the life look like?

Madison: I start each morning checking what time I need to leave to catch the train or bus. Public transit in France is notorious for being late, being canceled, or being on strike. I have 2-4 hours of class each day, with each class taught solely in French. I am with 9 other Furman students every day, just about all day. We take conversation, culture, grammar, theatre, and architecture classes (once again all in French!) We have to buy our lunch at bakeries and local restaurants each day- so basically I’ve eaten way too many pastries and baguettes, but do as the French do! After class, I might go to the French pharmacies to browse- they have the BEST beauty products. Then I come home, do my homework, call my friends from home, and then eat dinner with my host family. I’ve loved my experience in my host family. They have young kids so each dinner is lively and I feel so welcome in their home. Having them has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the trip! I also tend to go to bed here way earlier than at home. I switch between English with my friends and French at school all day, so my brain is spinning by the end of the day!

Q: How do you think you have grown as a person?

Madison: I can’t tell you how much I feel like this experience has changed me for the better. I feel more patient, more understanding of the way others think, more empathetic. I feel more mature in dealing with conflict, dealing with hardships, and more comfortable doing things that once scared me (I took an overnight train- never thought I would do that!!) I truly believe that living in another country helps to open your mind and teach you to be kind everyone! Even though there are so many different cultures and people in this world, we deep down are all so similar and deserve so much love and kindness! 

Q: Have you made any unexpected friendships?

Madison: Two other girls on my trip are in my sorority at Furman, and we really didn’t hang out much before this trip. But I am so grateful they are here with me. They make the mundane so much fun! When we had a two week trip around France (that got very exhausting very quickly) we stuck together and were silly and made jokes about everything! It is so important to find something fun in everyday, and they definitely make that possible!

Love & Laughter,

Jackie 

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