Jessie Magaziner

Jessie Magaziner


Majors: French and International Studies

Minor: Spanish

Montpellier, France

Academic Year 2007-2008


“You want to go where for how long??!!”

I can remember this phrase being uttered by my mother when I told her that I wanted to study in the south of France for the school year. She was shocked and unprepared to let me go away for so long. At the time, I was very nervous to leave the life I was so accustomed to and fly across the ocean into a world I knew would be very different. Yet, something inside of me was convinced that it was the right thing to do and I am SO glad that I took this leap of faith. Living in Montpellier, France for 9 ½ months was the most influential, amazing experience of my life. Every day taught me more about myself and people in general than I could have ever imagined. The culture of the south of France, the beauty of the language, the intricacies of French people, all of these things helped shape my time there into a learning process.
I lived with a wonderful host family, the Di Ruggiero’s: Jean-Marc, my host dad, Anne-Marie, my host mom, and the kids Victor, Raphaël, and Zoé. And of course Astin, the lovely Westie who terrorized our neighbors. Living with this family was extremely different from living with my family in the U.S. They were much more formal than my family and Anne-Marie was in charge of everything, where as things are a little more haphazard chez moi. The best part about living there was the food! As I’m sure everyone knows, French cuisine is legendary, and being able to experience this first-hand was quite a treat. Not everything was perfect though…I might pass up baby eel next time someone offers it to me. Living with the Di Ruggiero’s gave me an insight into real French people that I never would have gained living with other Americans in an apartment. I also think that being a part of a new family helped me deal with homesickness.

I attended a French university, l’Université Paul Valéry, and I learned about all sorts of interesting subjects, like lyrical and gothic literature, phonetics, grammar (okay, maybe that one wasn’t so interesting…) and translation. However, the experience of integrating into the French university system taught me more than any of my classes ever could. This was a perfect opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone and be challenged.
I’m not going to say that every single day was easy or that I didn’t sometimes feel like I was succeeding, but I can look back today and be amazed and proud of what I learned and accomplished there. If you are looking for the easy way out or to mess around for a semester or two, then I don’t think studying abroad is for you. However, if you are looking to challenge yourself, learn new things and maybe take a risk or two, then studying abroad will positively impact you for the rest of your life. The biggest lesson that I learned was that each experience and opportunity in life is only as great as you make it. If I had sat in my house all year and not traveled or met new people, then my experience would have been much less influential. By throwing myself into la vie française, I never regretted a day that I spent there and my love for this beautiful country and its interesting people has made it seem nearly impossible to stay away. After almost ten months in Montpellier I left feeling as if it wasn’t enough time and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Studying abroad has just started me on what I hope is a long path full of travel and unique cultural experiences.

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