Forrest McClure, 21, is a History and French double-major at UNC–Greensboro, and departed
for France in Fall 2018. He's spent an entire academic year at Université de Rennes, taking all his courses entirely in French. Here's an update from Forrest, sharing insight on the growth he's experienced while abroad:
"The past few months here in Rennes have been nothing less than life changing. I've gained a new respect for anyone who travels/works/relocates to a foreign country and have gained a new respect for myself for overcoming many battles along the way."
"I have established a new way of life since being here and have had to adjust to many differences in education (and) transportation as well as the obvious language barrier that can sometimes cause confusion and frustration."
"Since my primary reason for being here is my education I will start by elaborating a little bit more about the difference in education in France and the United States. My perspective might be skewed a little bit as I am in an immersion program and not mainstream French universities classes; however, one of the major differences I have noted is the increased amount of class participation that is expected of the students."
"Oftentimes, the teacher will ask a broad question and will go around the room and ask each individual what their thoughts and opinions are about this question. For example, my civilization teacher will often ask us a question about French culture and then make us compare it to the culture of our home country (all responses are answered in the French language of course)."
"I find this setup in the classroom beneficial because, not only are the students getting the opportunity to practice our target language, but we also getting a more global perspective of how certain situations are handled in other parts of the world. A classroom composed of all international students has given me insight to how life is lived in Africa, South America, Asia etc., just as much as it has life in France."
"One specific struggle I've dealt with here was growing accustomed to using public transportation every day. In the States I drive everywhere; I use my car to get from my apartment complex to UNCG’s campus, I drive to the grocery store, I drive to work, etc. I knew things would be different when I arrived in France because I knew prior to my arrival that European countries put more effort into their public transportation systems. However, something unexpected that I did not realize was how difficult it would be to learn how to navigate the metro and bus system here when trying to find certain places around town."
"After a month or so I was able to overcome this struggle with public transportation through my daily use of the metro, with the help of occasionally writing a note on my phone if I found a boulangerie or a boutique that I enjoyed. I would simply make a mark at which metro stop to get off, in order to find each specific store. Though it would be much easier to use Google Maps every time I took the metro, I decided it would make more sense to just make a compiled list in order to better memorize the map of the city. By using this system over time, I've (come to know) the location of all of my favorite places in the city."
"The result of doing this meant I was relying less on maps that were located around the city and eventually (I was) able to navigate the city by memory. This in turn made me feel more like a local when I was completing my daily routine to the city center, and over time I was able to achieve my goal of maneuvering my host city without the help of public transportation."