Long before she declared her double major in French Language and Art History, Marina Cathers looked forward to studying abroad. “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to leave the country and see more of the world,” she says.
In her junior year, she took up the opportunity to study in Paris for four months with Academic Programs International (API) and in Grenoble for six months as part of Seattle University’s French in France program.
Mornings in Grenoble were devoted to studying French with a small group of SU students. In the afternoon, the academic focus shifted to French culture, taught in an all-French classroom. At the end of the day, Marina went home to long, relaxed dinners with her host family, where good food and French conversation kept them around the table for hours.
Marina hoped that immersing herself in France would take her language proficiency to a new level and it did. “Living in France and being immersed in the language, I learned more nuances and cultural references,” she says. “There’s a lot more to a language culturally than you learn in a classroom.”
“Personally, this experience has made me much more confident,” Marina notes. “I was able to actually express myself in French—to go beyond what’s easy to say and to actually communicate how I feel. Academically, It solidified for me how much I want French to be part of my life, and maybe other languages, too. Professionally, if I were offered an opportunity to work abroad, it wouldn’t scare me. Having lived in France, I know I could do it. That’s a door that’s open to me now.”
It’s so important to have perspective outside the little bubble you live in—having an idea of how other people live in places around the world beyond your own. It not only opens you up to those places, it makes you more curious to learn about your own. It makes you reflect on yourself.