Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Keara Parciak - IES Abroad: French Studies, Paris, France


Major(s): Music and French

Minor(s): Spanish

Favorite Course: Phonetics at IES and my lessons at the Ecole Normale de Musique

Highlight: I took a majority of my courses at the ENM but spent some time at the center. Because the courses at the ENM were either late in the morning, or early in the afternoon, and my ENM courses were once a week, I had a fair amount of free time to explore the city.

Best Excursion: My trip to Barcelona

Favorite Dish: Pave de Canard au sauce Roquefort (Duck in a Roquefort sauce with roasted potatoes)

Least Favorite Dish: Endives wrapped in ham in a cream sauce

How was the experience of studying language in the classroom (in high school or in college) prior to studying abroad different from the experience of studying language in and outside of the classroom once you were abroad?

It was definitely a different experience studying French in France, as opposed to studying French at SJU. Mainly, because once I left the IES center, I had to speak French to be able to get around the city, or to communicate with my host parents. In addition, I was also able to study classes in music in French. France uses a completely different system of notation (instead of identifying pitches with letters, they use solfege). Because of this, I had to study the terms on my own so that I would remember them during my lessons, my analysis class, and my choir rehearsal. It took a while for them to sink in, but after a few weeks, I was able to easily identify keys, and pitches in French. Honestly, I really enjoyed my music class because I was able to study different things from piano and voice, to twentieth century pieces of much in French. This made studying language more interesting. Outside of the classroom, I was able to pass for a native speaker, which helped me practice my French with other native speakers.

What was a typical day like for you while abroad?

Because of my class schedule, I had a lot of free time during the week to explore the city. Typically, on a day when I had a light course load, I would take the metro to go to class, and then get lunch from some place on the Rue Daguerre (where the center was). After that, depending on what I had to do that day, I would either take the metro to some place in the city and explore, or go to a café and study. After a while, I take the metro back to my house, and either have dinner with my host family or get dinner with friends/alone.

Describe your best travel experience.

While abroad, I was able to travel to England, Wales, Austria, and Spain, as well as several other parts of France. However, among all of those, I would have to say that my best travel experience was my trip to Barcelona. Being a Spanish minor, this definitely gave me an opportunity to practice my Spanish as well as experience some for the Spanish culture I had studies at SJU. I went in the middle of April for 3 days with a friend from my program. We stayed at a hotel near one of the main train stations in Barcelona. From there, we were able to get to places like the Sagrada Familia, the Olympics stadium, Las Ramblas and many other places. We went to a open air market on Las Ramblas that had everything from fresh seafood to gelato. Lastly, what made this trip very memorable was the weather. It was in the high seventies every day, and because Barcelona is by the mountains, and the water, there were so many beautiful views of the city. I would definitely like to go back to this city again.