Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Mauricio in France

Downtown Lille Mauricio '24 visiting downtown Lille
October 13, 2022
Mauricio Calderon '24

Mauricio Calderon '24, an economics and environmental studies double major with a minor in French, is studying abroad at the Université de Lille in France.

My experience abroad in France has been far more enriching, exciting and at times challenging than I expected. Still, it has been a most worthwhile adventure.

Two main challenges I faced in France and studying at Université de Lille were the language barrier and the French higher education system. Although I am a French minor at Lake Forest, being immersed in a fully French-speaking context proved initially challenging. The French that one learns in the classroom is not always the one that one hears in the streets or when your classmates chat. Despite this, I hope to increase my fluency by the end of the semester and I am happy to be able to follow my classes, all of which are taught in French. On the note of academics, French students spend a lot more time in the classroom but have a lot less homework than in a US institution, so it is one thing for the other! If you are student considering studying abroad, make sure to understand the college system before you go, it will save you much confusion.

On a brighter note, my study abroad has proved a wonderful opportunity for traveling and making friends. Lille is very conveniently located in Europe, making trips to Paris and nearby cities in Belgium doable in the weekend or even as a day trip. Lille itself is a beautiful, quaint student city so I have had no shortage of museums and events to attend outside of school time. Additionally, there are plenty of exchange international students at Lille so making friends has not been as challenging as I expected.

Overall, my study abroad has provided me with a more realistic view of what France and the French are like. While not this fairytale country that many people think of when they think of France, so far I have had a wonderful time and I am looking forward to what the rest of my semester has in store for me.

Mauricio visiting the Castle of the Counts Gent in Belgium:


Mauricio at  the Maison Folie Wazemmes, a cultural facility of the city of Lille:

Maison Folie Wazemmes