New ground was broken as Lauren Johnson became the first Hope student to participate in the IES (Institute of International Education of Students) Paris Business and International Affairs program. Upon completion of the program, Lauren reflected on her experience, what she learned, and plans for the future.
"I had a wonderful time and I was surprised at the program's organization as I was with only the second semester of students to go through (it was just established fall of 2007). The classes I took were Advanced French Language and Culture II, Business French, History of Paris in Art and Architecture, Comparative European Political Systems, and International Political Economy. I was very satisfied with the courses that I took."
"There were many things I learned about French culture during my time in Paris. First of all, everyone is VERY into politics. Everywhere I went people were always asking me about Bush and if I liked Obama. As a political science major I really enjoyed it because politics seemed to be a sort of "way of life." I also learned that, contradictory to what most people believe, the French are actually very nice and polite. I could see how they come off as arrogant because they definitely have a sense of pride in who they are, but I found them to be quite charming people. I also learned that the French really enjoy life. I found it amusing that even my host parents would have friends over and go out on a regular basis and they weren't afraid to have a good time."
"In regards to my future, I think that my time in Paris will play an important role. Not only did I grow as a person, but I also think that my experience has helped shape who I am today. Not to mention that my language skills went through the roof compared to the level I was at before leaving. After spending a semester in Paris I am now very comfortable in the city and I could definitely see myself moving back some day.
I was blessed and had an AMAZING host family so I think that some of my fondest memories were spent just hanging around with them. I had four host brothers so that was crazy at times, but that also meant that my host mom loved me because I was the only other girl around. I also really enjoyed the city itself; it seems there was always something new and exciting to do until the very end. In conclusion, I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the opportunity; it was a life changing experience!"