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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Christian in France

Christian Henriquez-Alas ’19 is a double major in Finance and French who is studying in Montpellier, France.

My freshman year at Lake Forest College I set a goal for the following years - learn a new language. I decided to take French classes and I loved it; I started as a beginner my first-year and now, I’m a junior studying abroad in Montpellier, France. Who would have thought that taking language classes would take me to the other side of the world? 

Being able to know another language has not only allowed me to travel to another country but also to a new culture, mindset and a new cuisine! Being in France has also taught me a lot about the student experience as a college undergrad. The education system can be a bit difficult to handle sometimes, especially if you’re coming from an American university. Everything takes longer to process; registering for classes is confusing and professors can be less accessible than those in liberal art colleges. But don’t get me wrong! I’m enrolled in classes that are the most interesting and remarkable courses I’ve taken so far in college. My favorite class is “Latin American Civilization,” in which we discuss the roots of colonization across Latin American and the development of the Mexican and Cuban Revolution and its impact. Overall, my experience at a French university has been great; I’ve got to improve my French considerably and made very interesting friends! 

Other perks of being abroad in Europe is that you get to travel to other cities and countries for cheap! In February, I hopped on a bus to Nice, France and I had an amazing trip exploring the French Riviera. I stayed at a hostel where I met people from all around the world; everyone was so nice and welcoming. Nice is probably one of the most beautiful towns in the south of France. Its architecture is a mixture of Roman and Contemporary buildings, museums, and churches and the streets are stocked with flowers along the entrances of boutiques and shops. Likewise, we got to visit other cities and villages around Nice like Cannes and Monaco - the latter being a tiny independent city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline.  

Studying abroad has been an eye-opening experience in which I’ve learned how to be more independent and has truly taught me more about empathy, responsibility and self-determination. And, I would like to thank the donors of my scholarship, Ingrid H. and George L. Speros, for helping me financially to achieve my goal of studying abroad.