Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Two University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff students recently returned from a four-week study abroad program at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaures in Toulouse, France. In addition to completing courses in French language, Natalie Carr, a senior major of computer science, and Demetrius Johnson, a May 2016 graduate of computer science, learned about French culture and toured the historic landmarks of southwest France.
During the study abroad program, Carr and Johnson completed a four-week intensive program in French language, earning 84 credit hours that will apply to their coursework at UAPB. After their daily language courses, the students attended workshops on French music and cinema.
“My favorite part of the study abroad experience was the challenge of actually being able to adapt and survive in a foreign country on my own,” Carr said. “At the University of Toulouse, I appreciated being surrounded by students from all around the world and learning about their cultures and languages. Outside of the classroom, I enjoyed visiting the cultural sites of Toulouse and tasting the traditional French dishes.”
Johnson said he also enjoyed meeting students from around the world and traveling with them on weekend excursions to cultural heritage sites. The program included a trip to the city of Carcassonne, where the students visited a medieval fortified settlement on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“I appreciated the chance to learn about the French culture,” Johnson said. “The French are a very nice people and they have a boldness in their attitude. They take pride in their health and diet, and have a love for wine and fashion.”
Carr said she appreciated seeing the courtesy the locals in Toulouse showed each other.
“Being respectful and greeting people seemed to be very important,” she said. “One of my key takeaways was the respect people show for elders, always ensuring they are alright and helping them with anything they need. It was refreshing to see several people offering their bus or metro seats to elders.”
Johnson said he recommends other UAPB students consider studying abroad because it is an excellent opportunity to explore other parts of the world and learn how other cultures live.
“Even if you are worried about the culture shock of a new destination, just know that it is a worthwhile experience that you will likely enjoy no matter the differences from what you are accustomed to,” he said.
Carr said students who put themselves in an unknown, foreign environment have a unique opportunity to learn more about the world as well as themselves.
“Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience that has an effect on one’s personal growth,” she said. “In own my experience, I feel more empathetic to immigrants in America since studying abroad.”
Students should take advantage of the UAPB Office of International Programs to enhance their educational experience and open doors to new opportunities, Carr said.
This project was supported by the program titled “From the Mississippi Delta to the Niger Delta: Strengthening Teaching and Extension Capacity at UAPB to Enhance International Programming,” USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Grant #2012-38821-20258.
For more information about study abroad opportunities at UAPB, contact Dr. Pamela D. Moore, associate dean for global engagement, at email@example.com or 870-575-8195.