Cola Study Abroad Interview- Rachel Swett- Dijon

12513702_994506890627844_3454597356736291581_oCredit: Jim Parsons

COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself (Major, hometown, interests, etc)                      

Rachel Swett: I am 22 years old, and I’m studying French with a Hospitality Management minor at UNH. I’m from the small town of Rochester, New Hampshire. I love to cook and try new restaurants and foods. I have always loved the French language and culture and recently came back from five months abroad in Dijon, France.

COLA: Why did you choose the Dijon program?                                                                              

Rachel: I chose the Dijon program because it was directly linked with UNH and the credit would easily transfer. Having the security of knowing I was in good hands and all my work would pay off and keep me on track made me feel good about the choice.

12440419_994458110632722_3726037982627907378_oCredit: Jim Parsons

COLA: What was the biggest surprise during your experience?                                              

Rachel: I think I was really surprised just how many different cultures I would be exposed to. Not only the French culture but, I made friends with people from all over the world and got to see a part of the world through them. Including people from other European countries as well as many Asian and South American countries.

COLA: How did you finance your semester in France? 

Rachel: I worked a lot before I left, especially the summer before I left for France. I tried to save as much money as I could that way I could really enjoy myself abroad. I have loans and my mother helped me out as well. While I was abroad, I tried to use most of my money for travel or really experiencing the more important things to me – like food or special events. Things I knew I wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to do at home or often.

12672112_994505470627986_6910705201067592527_oCredit: Jim Parsons

COLA: How was it being immersed in a new language? Did you pick it up from them and how did it affect your day-to-day life?                                                                                             

Rachel: It’s definitely true that the best way to learn a language is to go where they speak it. I learned much faster there than when I was home. I noticed I would think more in French and the flow of my speaking was better after only a couple of weeks! It wasn’t too much of a struggle to order a coffee or find the right train, because my confidence was higher.

COLA: Did you have a chance to explore Dijon and other cities in France?              

Rachel: Dijon isn’t too big of a city and the city center is easy to navigate which meant seeing the city itself was easy. I think I went everywhere and I felt confident in getting around after the first two weeks. For other cities, I found that I went to the south of France more often. I loved the Provence region and Marseille ( I think I was homesick for the ocean.) and I would love to go back there again. Lyon is close to Dijon so I was there a couple times. My mom came to visit me for Christmas in Paris and I was there a few more times throughout the semester. I think you could go to that city over and over again and never get bored, I love Paris. My only regret is never getting to Bordeaux. Traveling around France was very easy with the train, I bought a youth discount card that made tickets cheaper.

12440746_994506630627870_6961821378892561209_oCredit: Jim Parsons

COLA: How has it been readjusting to life in Durham?                                                                

Rachel: Now that I’m home, adjusting back to my American life hasn’t been too hard. I still unfortunately wake up too early here and get sleepy around dinnertime since Dijon is 6 hours ahead of us. I also miss walking everywhere. In Dijon I didn’t drive, but here I need to drive to go somewhere that’s only 5 minutes away. I miss the boulangeries and the bread from France, Wonder Bread is not the same. I also still catch myself saying “Merci”, “Oui”, and “Pardon” out of habit!