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Overcoming the Language Barrier

One major part of the study abroad program is that each student stays with a host family for the entirety of the trip. In an effort to fully emerge us into French culture, the family kind of adopts us into their daily life and most importantly, they only talk to us in French. In theory, this seems like a very good idea as it provides us with the best possible way of improving our French, as we are constantly around the language and are forced to use it to communicate. However, it also has an unintended side effect by the way that it clearly delineates the presence of a language barrier, an obstacle I had never considered until I arrived here. Now, it is true that I do speak some French, but it’s more like what I like to refer to as “baby French”. And trust me, I had no misguided beliefs that I was going to arrive here and just start spurting perfect French. It takes a lot of effort for me to speak French conversationally, especially in the beginning. I had to think about everything I wanted to say very carefully. Then there is the added struggle of comprehending what is being said to me. It’s not too bad in a one-on-one conversation, but I’ve been staying with a family of seven. So every dinner or breakfast is kind of like a marathon for me as I try to keep up with everything that is being said, as both the parents and the children talk at full speed over each other.

I think this was such a big shift for me because I’ve always been able to articulate exactly what I want to say so that it is perceived and understood in the way that I want it to come across (at least to a certain extent). But, in French, I can’t do that. Furthermore, the way I communicate is a direct illustration of my personality. I’m a little sarcastic and silly all at the same time, all of which I communicate through my choice of words and tone. But again, in French, I can’t communicate that with my words. Realizing this made me feel as though my host family would never really get to know me and that inversely, I would never fully understand them. I had never fully understood the concept of a language barrier until that moment. Language can serve as a bridge that connects people or it can serve as a wall that isolates you. However, it wasn’t the source of the isolation, but only the tool used by it to enhance something that was already present. As with most emotions, the sense of isolation I felt came from the inside, created and cultivated by me.

Looking back on the first two weeks that I was in Lyon, when I felt this sense of isolation the most intensely, I can easily see how my host family continually tried to connect with me and include me in their family. They were kind as well as attentive and during group discussions, like the ones that would occur at dinner, they would slow down to make sure that I could understand, ask me questions so that I could join the conversation, and patiently wait as I tried to articulate my idea. My obstacle wasn’t the language or even being intimidated by the rapid French of my host family, it was me. I needed to be patient with myself, allow myself to make mistakes, and most importantly, to keep trying. In the end, when I look back on my trip, my host family was probably one of the best parts. I will be forever happy that they decided to adopt me into their home and that I put out the effort to make a connection with them, instead of allowing the language barrier to form a wall in between us.


Hannah-Kaye Carter is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City double majoring in chemistry and psychology with minors in French and biology. She is spending her summer abroad with the Faculty-Led UMKC French Language Summer in Lyon, France. Hannah-Kaye was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where she lived until she immigrated to the United States at 9 years old. Currently, Hannah-Kaye is a member of the UMKC Pre-Med Society and a member of the Educate Organize and Advocate Committee. Additionally, she volunteers at the W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center as an assistant teacher in their subtraction classroom every Saturday morning. Her hope is to someday go to medical school, become a doctor, and eventually become a member of Doctors without Borders.


Disclaimer:

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Exploration

As of today, I’ve been in Lyon for exactly three weeks. In spite of this fact, I still haven’t been able to shake the excitement that I feel when I think about the fact that I’ve been living in Europe. It’s kind of silly, I know, but that feeling of excitement still hasn’t worn off. Even though, I’ve been able to explore a lot of the city by now, there is still so much I haven’t seen as there is so much to do and see here. I love everything about Lyon, the people, the food, but especially the architecture. To me it is the most beautiful part of the city and it is so full of history.

For example, there is a section of the city called Vieux Lyon, which literally means old Lyon. That part of the city holds all of the oldest buildings and is one of Europe’s largest Renaissance neighborhoods. Vieux Lyon is divided into three sections, each of which has its own specific style of architecture. There is the Saint Jean quarter, which was constructed in the Middle ages, where all the buildings in that region exemplify gothic architecture. The best example of this is definitely St. Jean’s cathedral, which is pictured on the right. Walking around in that cathedral was completely surreal and it left me wondering how they could have possibly managed to build something like this at a time when flashlights where not even an idea that had been imagined yet. However, it is nothing compared to the Basilique de Fouvrière (on the left), which has ceilings so beautiful that most people who enter the cathedral spend half of their time there, just gawking at the ceiling.

Then there is also the Saint Paul section, where many Italian bankers/merchants had settled in the 15th and 16th century. As a result of this, all the buildings in this region resemble those that you would find in Italy. Finally, and probably the most interesting section, at least according to me, is the Saint Georges quarter, where there are actually secret passageways throughout the buildings known as les traboules. It might have my inner child or just the fact that I love adventure movies, but even though they were created for very practical reasons, to help silk weavers transport their products, walking through les traboules was probably one the most exciting part of exploring the city for me.

With that said, I feel like it’s only fair that I share the downsides to living in Lyon, all two of them. Firstly, almost everyone smokes and they smoke everywhere: in the house, in the university, on the metro, and at the bus stop. Just everywhere! You can’t escape it. No matter where you go, you will always be choking on someone’s cigarette smoke. However, I’m pretty sure that this habit isn’t just specific to Lyon. Secondly, the bathroom situation is a source of continual annoyance. Either, the bathroom is incredibly disgusting or you have to pay to go to the bathroom. Yes, you read that correctly, pay to use the bathroom! I’m sure they have a semi-logical reason for doing this, which at this point I don’t know and can’t think of, but I will never understand paying to use the bathroom. If you need to use the bathroom, you just have to use the bathroom. This isn’t something you can control. And I know you must be thinking, “Oh you could probably just sneak in”, but no, you really can’t, as there is a worker who stays in the bathroom at all times, monitoring who comes and goes to the bathroom. A riveting job, I’m sure! In spite of these two things, I wouldn’t trade my summer in Lyon for anything.

 


Hannah-Kaye Carter is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City double majoring in chemistry and psychology with minors in French and biology. She is spending her summer abroad with the Faculty-Led UMKC French Language Summer in Lyon, France. Hannah-Kaye was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where she lived until she immigrated to the United States at 9 years old. Currently, Hannah-Kaye is a member of the UMKC Pre-Med Society and a member of the Educate Organize and Advocate Committee. Additionally, she volunteers at the W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center as an assistant teacher in their subtraction classroom every Saturday morning. Her hope is to someday go to medical school, become a doctor, and eventually become a member of Doctors without Borders. 

Disclaimer:
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Bizarre Pairing of Dreams and Fears

All week I have been anxiously awaiting Saturday, June 1st, the day that marks the beginning of my study abroad adventure in
Lyon with a 14 hour and 50-minute journey into another hemisphere. Although, I have spent the majority of my short life daydreaming about what it would be like to live in France, the food I would eat, the people I would meet, and all the adventures I would have, the majority of my thoughts leading up to my departure have been rooted in a mixture of fear and anxiety with a small sprinkling of excitement that easily disappears within my nervousness. My apprehensive and ever restless mind races through all the possible pitfalls I could encounter during my once excitedly anticipated adventure that my thoughts have now crafted into a somewhat unwelcome nightmare. From losing all my luggage to getting robbed in the subway and being left penniless, without any form of ID in a foreign country, my mind imagines and brings to life with a startling sense of realness all the bad things that could conceivably befall a naïve and doe-eyed girl such as myself.

This persistent state of worry that has entangled my brain is made worse by my mom’s boundless paranoia. If I’m being completely honest, I had not even considered any of the dangers that come with traveling abroad until my mom started sharing news stories of people who were kidnapped and sold into human trafficking rings with me. Extreme? Yes, but that’s my mom and deep down I know that she does it out of concern for me as she knows that I have a tendency to jump into things head first without really considering all the consequences. Like I said before, I can be a bit naïve. In spite of this self-awareness, just like every other time she’s tried to scare me into taking my head out of the clouds and bring me back to reality, I brush it off and tell her not to be so paranoid. Yet, we’re both aware that her words stick. Acting like a light switch, they turn on all my anxiety and put my brain into an anxious overdrive, forcing me to face a pessimistic reality that I had been suppressing while jolting all my nervous energy back to life.

However, as I sit on an old rickety chair in the crappy basement of the expensive, but yet dilapidated apartment building that I call home with tornado sirens blaring all around me, I’m hit with a sense of calm as I realize that this Saturday I get to escape my reality and finally live within my daydream. Despite the fact that no real harm has reached me, the calm demeanor that encompasses my mind and actions during this extremely intense situation assures me that no matter the problems that might await me while abroad, I will be able to take them on with the same calm and sound mind. The sprinkle of excitement for my upcoming trip returns and multiples, growing stronger by the minute, as I come to the realization that fear precedes every exciting and novel adventure that a person takes in life. While our fear serves a purpose of keeping us alert and prepared, it is important to not let it overwhelm us, since in the end, some of our most anticipated fears turn into our most cherished memories or at the very least funny stories that we can use to make ourselves seem more interesting than we really are.

 


Hannah-Kaye Carter is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City double majoring in chemistry and psychology with minors in French and biology. She is spending her summer abroad with the Faculty-Led UMKC French Language Summer in Lyon, France. Hannah-Kaye was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where she lived until she immigrated to the United States at 9 years old. Her hope is to someday go to medical school, become a doctor, and eventually become a member of Doctors without Borders.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Crafting Your Gilman Essay

Crafting a Competitive Gilman Essay: Tips

Image result for writing clip art

 

Okay, so, I see that you have decided to apply for Gilman! GREAT! Let’s get started on crafting an essay that will give you a better chance of winning a scholarship to study abroad. As a Gilman recipient I remember being stressed! I had other assignments to do, exams etc you name it, and to make matters worse, my classes clashed with the work shops provided by the Study Abroad Office.  So, I thought all hope was lost. I didn’t have anyone to help truly guide me in this part of applying. So, here are a few tips to help if you run into the same circumstances I faced!

Step One: Don’t fall into pessimistic thinking! Speak it into existence! Claim it and it will be yours.

If you cant attend the workshops which I highly recommend, pull up good ol Dr. Google and begin searchin’ and readin’. There are SO MANY resources available online to help you craft a competitive essay. Even the Gilman website gives tips. Youtube is also a great place to go if you do not have time to read through various articles explaining how to write this essay. I will post a link for the example essay I used to craft my essay.

        https://scholarshipsojourn.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/sample-gilman-essay-3-england/

Step 2: Set aside enough time so that you can REVISE, REVISE and REVISE some more.

This is really something that can’t be written in one night! I would advise to not revise so much that your personal voice is gone and it sounds like a robot wrote your essay. It is okay to use “I” unlike in the academic writing we are used to. Make sure that there aren’t any grammatical errors or if you choose to provide intimate details about your life don’t cut it short, DETAIL IS GOOD. Use all of the characters and words they give you! They want to know who you are and why they should give you money. TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY! Here are a few tips I would give you when it comes to the actual content.

  • Be yourself and I mean really yourself, The people reviewing your essay will read a thousand other ones, STAND OUT  
  • Tell them how studying abroad will help you life/career  goals and or your community 
  • STRESS the need for financial assistance, everyone applying receives a Pell Grant, so they know money is the issue
  • DETAIL, the paper is the only representation they have of you, this is a time when you can tell your whole life story and someone will actually want to hear it 
  • Get Personal
  • Let them know why you choose a specific study abroad program
  • Make your opening sentence intriguing and your opening paragraph concise like a thesis statement.
  • Give a timeline! It’s okay to talk about past experiences, but make sure you make them relevant to you present and future.
  • Talk about the city you will be in

Step 3:  Email me and I’ll give you feedback [gabbiehull@gmail.com]       

If you ever get stuck, as a Gilman recipient/Alumni and a UMKC graduate, I am here to help anyone who wants to study abroad. It was one of the best experiences of my life and if I can help someone get abroad it would be my honor.


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Few Reasons Why You Should Apply for the Gilman 🤔

 

**ATTENTION**

Before reading this post make sure that you meet all the requirements on this checklist. If not, you may not be eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship, but there are most definitely other options, grants, and scholarships out there.  Do not give up on studying abroad because of financial concerns. Trust me, I didn’t have a dime to spend, and my entire trip was paid for. It was the best thing that ever happened to me and it could very much be you.

  • Are you a U.S citizen?
  • Do you receive the Pell Grant through Federal financial aid?
  • Are you attending a two or four-year university?
  • Have you been accepted into a study abroad program or internship eligible for credit by the student’s accredited institution?
  • Are you studying or interning abroad for at least 21 days in one country?
  • Are studying or interning abroad in any country except Cuba or a country on the US Department of State’s current Travel Warning list?  
  • Are you ready to embark on one of the most eye-opening experiences of your life?

If you answered yes to all of the above, buckle up and let’s dive into why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.

What is the Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship?

The Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic competitiveness. It is open to college students that are U.S citizens, attend a two or four-year university that receives the Federal Pell Grant. The Gilman scholarship is competitive, so you will have to put in effort and time, but it is very much worth it. The Pell grant and to be in the running to receive the scholarship, you must craft an essay. You will also be required to propose a follow-on service project or a way to help others become aware of the scholarship so that it can benefit other people in the way it’s helped you, giving back to those who helped you get to the place you are today.

Why I applied

Although my study abroad program allowed me to use loans from financial aid, I was not looking to take out any more loans. Loans equal money I’ll have to pay back later. Gilman equals money I will pay back in serving my community. Let’s be real, paying for college is daunting. Studying abroad may appear to be out of the question, but fret not, there are ways to get around financial restrictions. Studying abroad offers experiences that cannot be captured on a college campus sitting in a classroom. Through studying abroad, you will learn perspective, life skills and grow as an individual. This can all be realized by applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship. It’ll just a take a little hard work and dedication. Honestly, coming from a single parent household with four other siblings, our financial situation was, to say the least, rough. I didn’t think I’d be able to go to college, let alone touch down in France, Spain, Ireland and The Netherlands. But the Gilman Scholarship made this possible and I am ever so grateful.

Okay, I know you’re probably like, “Okay girl, we get it. Get to the point! Enough with the cheesy words to motivate me to study abroad. I’m in.” Okay, well then, let’s really talk. I’m going to give you the tea and nothing but the tea on why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.  Three, two, one, let’s go!

Why should you apply for the Gilman?

Overseas was LIT! I met people and had experiences I could not have had in the United States. If you have an opportunity to make this possible for yourself, why not use all the resources available to you. Gilman is a GREAT resource considering that recipients receive between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Gilman Scholars join a network of people from different walks of life that could help in your professional development. I’m not finished yet, Gilman gives you career opportunities as well! Therefore if you love traveling you can continue this lifestyle. Applying to Gilman will only help you, so what are you waiting for APPLY! YOU CAN DO IT! VOUS POUVEZ LE FAIRE!


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

How Gilman Has Changed My Life & Career Goals

Receiving the Gilman Scholarship gave me an experience I will never forget. I studied abroad in Lyon, France for six weeks. I traveled to Spain, Amsterdam, and four cities in France while in Europe. There is no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t receive the scholarship I would have stayed home and worked over the summer. My summer in France gave me more than just fun times, but insights into to my career goals. As a graduating senior, I am applying for a program by the name of TAPIF. As a freshman I came to UMKC as a French major, the French language has always been a passion of mine. After hearing some of the negative comments about job opportunities after graduating I decided to add Sociology as a backup plan. While I enjoyed sociology it just wasn’t my steak and potatoes. When I studied abroad in the summer of 2017 thanks to the Gilman I realized France felt like a home away and I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be and that I was still passionate about French. I was now sure that I wanted to use French in my career. If I had never applied to Gilman and received this scholarship, I believe I would still be confused about what I want to do in my career and worried about what other thought of my major. Receiving the Gilman helped me to not worry about what others say. If it’s meant for you it will be!

In addition to this realization,  I was offered a position with Teach for America. As a Gilman recipient, you can put this achievement on your resume and that is exactly what I did. It was fascinating that during my interview process the interviewer seemed extremely interested in learning about the Gilman. I believe that this achievement helped my resume to stand out among the crowd. On my resume, I have my sorority and the various clubs of which I am apart, but there were no questions asked about them. If I do not make it into the TAPIF program, I will have a career anyway and this is because that achievement helped me to stand out.

Being a Gilman Recipient has completely changed my goals in other ways when it comes to giving back to the community. I believe that everyone should have an experience abroad. It truly changes your perspective and outlook on life. On a personal note being a black woman, it goes unsaid but there is so much racial tension in the United States. For once while walking around in other nations, I felt as if I was American enough, not just African American. In the future, I hope to open a non-profit that helps students in low-income neighborhoods  experience studying abroad. As someone who comes from poverty I know that it is easy to feel defeated and that your situation will never get better. I know how much it changed my mindset and reality. Programs to study abroad exist at private schools or schools in high-income areas like the one I was lucky enough to be bused into and I think its time we give all students this opportunity and not just the one’s with money.

Tout les personnes méritent une chance égale


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Fill Your Life With Adventures…

It is unbelievable to me that I am already done with my six-week program in Lyon.

I feel simultaneously as if I just got here, and as if I have been here for a long, long time. There are so many things that I love about this city, and yet at the same time so much that I miss about home, the duality of life is more evident to me now than ever. I am sad to leave my new friends, this beautiful country, my lovely host family, and the many things I have come to love about this country, but I am also so happy that soon I will be home, able to see my dog and my brothers again, to be able to go get food at any time of day, to be able to eat my families homemade food and also tofu again (oddly enough, there is not a lot of tofu here). But it feels right, this balance of happy and sad, it makes me believe that I have found a decent balance while here.

While I will only have been in France for six weeks, I will have been to Nice, Annecy, Avignon, and Paris, that is amazing! I think everyone should, at some point in their life if they are given the opportunity, travel to another country and learn about the way other people live. Living in another country, even for as short of a time as I have, has opened my eyes to so many things. Learning to navigate within the social norms of another culture is both amazing and scary.

A quote that I believe to be entirely true is this: “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show”. This could not be more true, exploring the city and meeting new people, saying yes to things I would most likely have said no to at home, and just trying to make the most of my time here in France has been so much better than any material thing could be. I would much prefer to go to a concert somewhere or just wander the city finding new things than I would go shopping, I would much rather spend less money on stuff so I can instead spend it to go on an adventure to somewhere new or afford to have a new experience. I also believe that one of the most amazing parts of traveling, for me at least, has been the people that one meets while traveling. I have met the most amazing people from this trip, people I would never have met otherwise, people from other parts of the United States, and people from many other countries. Meeting such a variety of people has opened my mind even more than just being in another country has, other students and I compared the things we are used to from our countries and cultures with the things that are normal here in France, and in doing this I got to learn differences not just between US culture and French culture, but also US culture and the culture of many other countries. Meeting these many new people also means that there are bound to be people with many different thoughts and opinions, this was very true for this trip and that was a learning experience for me as well. I feel that I learned much, much more from just living in Lyon and living with a host family than I did from my classes because, in reality, life and language don’t work like the classroom. Learning a language in the classroom is so unbelievably different than actually using that language and learning the way it really works and the way it is used by native speakers.

I can truly say that this trip has changed my life. I have made friends that I will doubtless keep in touch with, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone time and time again, experienced a whole new country and a whole new way of life, and I know that Lyon, as well as the people in it and the people I met here,  will always have a piece of my heart.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

“This Wasn’t a Strange Place; It Was a New One”

The quote in this title is from Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, a book about traveling, learning new things and discovering who you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do.

While I can’t say I’ve figured everything out like the main character of the story, I can say that I feel that even just in the last two weeks I have expanded my way of thinking and come to appreciate the things in my life in an entirely different way.

This has been the last 2 weeks for me, just the most beautiful, photo-worthy moments of course, not the struggles getting there, the confusion of being in a new place, or how gross I looked after our class walked all over the city in the heat and humidity!

Anthony Bourdain said, “If you’re… hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them wherever you go” and that is the plan, over the next four weeks, in addition to being in Lyon I am going to visit Nice, Avignon, and Annecy!

Here is to always striving to be better than we are because, “… when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too” and maybe if we all strive to be the best we can be, we can change the world for the better.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Let’s Go To Lyon!

14 Hours, 42 Minutes, 35 Seconds

As of my writing this post, that is the amount of time until I get on the first plane to start my Journey to Lyon France!

This trip will be a trip of a lot of firsts for me, first time flying alone, first time leaving the country, first being away from Kansas/Missouri for more than a week, and I am beyond excited for that, and yet none of it feels quite real yet. I think that it doesn’t really feel like I’m leaving yet because I don’t know what to expect.

So far to prepare for this trip I have made multiple packing lists, packed and repacked my bags at least twice, triple checked that I have everything I need,  and met up with friends and family in my hometown before coming back to Kansas City. Despite all of this preparation, and the amount of time I have spent thinking about this trip, I still can’t believe that it is actually happening. I have wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember, and I never thought I would actually get the opportunity, and I am beyond grateful that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to study in another country, especially a country as beautiful as France.

Two quotes that I have been thinking about a lot lately are:

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
‒Charlemagne

and

❝Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.❞‒Neale Donald Walsch

Having just finished my first year in college, I know that I have changed a lot in the last year, I have been trying my best to ensure that that is a positive change, working to make myself better in anyway I can, and a part of doing that has been challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I think that Growth as well as Life begins at the end of one’s comfort zone. It is hard, maybe impossible, to grow as a person, to create better habits, to learn, and to be the best person you can be if you always stay with in your comfort zone, I know that this trip will push me out of my comfort zone, I will be flying alone to another country to stay with a host family in a country where English is not the primary language, I know I will not be able to prepare for and expect everything that I will experience, thats about as far outside of my comfort zone as I can  think to get! Not only will I be traveling to a foreign country alone for the first time, I will also be working to improve my language skills. I will be learning and practicing French in the best way possible; Immersion. This trip will give me a chance to grow my “second soul”, to improve my French, and to learn to connect with new people in a way I never have before; In another language.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Post-Undergrad Abroad

When I was finishing my degree by studying abroad with the Honors College, I knew I wanted to stay on in Europe for awhile. I would already be there and it would be the perfect time to spend an extended period abroad before getting an “adult” job.

I began looking at my options and pretty quickly found Au Pair jobs in France. I wanted to go to France and improve my French skills which I did not have a chance to work on during my college career. Taking care of children and going to a language class while living in Paris is a pretty good gig.

Deciding to be an Au Pair is a year-long commitment, so I knew I needed the support of an agency to help me out with the paperwork and to intervene just in case things headed south with the family. That was the best decision I made. I’ve met other au pairs since that have not had that support and things can get messy so quickly.

The process was a long one, but having the agency really helped me step through each piece. I created lots of documents both for the government and for potential families. I began everything at the beginning of March and left the country at the end of June. My stay in Paris lasts from September to next July.

There are lots of options to getting abroad besides just studying; I am considering a Working Holiday Visa for Australia next year. I am also earning so much experience by settling into this new country that will only boost my resume. So take a gap year and go work in another country!


Claire Davis graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City studied Liberal Arts with minors in Theatre and Environmental Sustainability. Claire spent Summer 2017 finishing her degree with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.