Grace Student Pursuing BA in French Education Studies Abroad in Dijon, France
Bonjour! My name is Zoe Marsh, and I am pursuing a BA in French education at Grace College. I transferred to Grace my sophomore year to study French, and I have not looked back since! I am currently writing this from Dijon, France, where I’ve spent four months studying abroad through a program for international students at the Université de Bourgogne.
Located in the heart of the region of Burgundy, I have been surrounded by world-class gastronomy, medieval history, and extremely kind, thoughtful locals who have welcomed me with grace.
My love for France is not new. Since the third grade, I have been a devout lover of the French culture. As a homeschooler, I took a French culture class that developed my accent and exposed me to traditional French music, literature, and art. From that point on, I’ve adored all things French, which led me to study with several native French speakers and to now pursue a BA in French education. Before studying abroad, I did not know what to expect, but now as I prepare to leave, I will take with me many valuable life lessons and treasured experiences.
As an extrovert, I wanted to interact with locals and experience culture from the beginning. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the necessity of giving myself grace living in a foreign country. This was very frustrating at the beginning, but foreign language learning is a process, and allowing yourself some grace is absolutely necessary if you spend any length of time abroad.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, the French are sincere and caring. It takes courage to break the outer shell of cultural differences, but once the barriers are broken, the French are friends for life. I have experienced love and kindness from many people here. One connection in particular began at a neighborhood brasserie (casual neighborhood restaurant). I began talking to an elderly man sitting next to me, which turned into an hour and a half conversation about France and his hometown in southern Provence. He was patient with my French conversation skills and even taught me some new vocabulary words. This interaction taught me to take risks, branch out, and initiate conversations.
So why pursue a BA in French education? I believe studying other languages is essential. It’s our calling as believers to go into the world and be lights for Christ. In order to do so effectively, we must be able to communicate in other languages. In life, we will meet people from all over the world, and we open the door to deeper connections when we can share a conversation with someone in their native tongue.
I encourage anyone who has a heart for other cultures to take the next step, enroll in a language class, and study abroad. I am returning to the states with a deeper passion for French and with skills that were only possible to attain through my experience abroad. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have taken my language learning a step further, and I plan to teach our next generation that they, too, can encounter the wonders of another culture.
Do you want to spend a semester experiencing another culture? Learn more about our study abroad program and check out our BA in French education.