An MU Student Perspective – A Semester in Paris, France

Student Spotlight: A Semester in Paris, France

The Office of Global Education supports many students while they study abroad, but taking classes abroad is not all that MU students do. Our university partners and other program providers around the world give students the chance for a once in a lifetime international experience.

Meet Caitlyn, a senior at Millersville University studying International Studies with a minor in French. This past Fall 2015 semester she boarded a plane to Paris, France to study for a year at MU’s partner program the American Business School of Paris to fulfill one of her life-long dreams of becoming fluent in French. Read her responses below about her experience thus far and how her time abroad is evolving her perspective of the world.

Get to Know Caitlyn

Name: Caitlyn Bordon
Year
: Senior
Major and/or Minor: International Studies and French
Host University/Program: American Business School
Host City, Country: Paris, France
Time period abroad: 2015-2016 Academic Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did you choose to study abroad in France?

I started learning French when I was twelve years old and fell in love with the beautiful language; I promised my dad that one day I would be fluent. What better way to become proficient than to go to the country and immerse yourself in the culture and way of life?

What is your favorite part about studying abroad so far? What is your least favorite?

I adore living with my host family. We have excellent culture clashes all the time when they think something I am doing is absurd, and vice versa. I learn so much about subtle cultural norms, my French has improved immensely, and I have had the pleasure of trying home cooked French cuisine. They have made this first semester such a rich experience, even if they do find my adoration for peanut butter absolutely repulsive.

The French culture is in and of itself a rich and vibrant thing. Unfortunately, it is very hard to break into. I have found it difficult to befriend French people, it is a culture that values the amount of time you have known a person over the shared experiences or conversations had in a shorter period. This has meant that my lack of permanence here has hindered friendship-making. But I persist in trying to connect with people!

Describe something you did for the first time or a specific memory that you have about your time abroad.

I have never before been to a professional soccer (football!) match. I was able to do that for the first time on November 13th when I saw Germany and France play. Germany is my team so it really was a dream come true to see them, even if they did play horribly and lost to France. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of one of these games, I loved it! French people are generally not very patriotic, but whatever sense of nationalism lies below the surface here came exploding out in this sports event which was a joy to witness.

Did you get the chance to travel outside of your host country?

The only time I left France was for a long weekend in Scotland. It was excellent. I loved everything about Scotland, a gorgeous country with delightful people and history. The University town of St. Andrews is like something out of a movie! This winter I will be heading back to the UK, to Wales and Ireland. I have high expectations.

What do you miss most about the U.S.? Are you looking forward to anything in particular when you come home?

The thing I miss the most is people. I love my friends back home in the States and being away from family is never too fun for me. So I am glad I get to go home and see them all, and I cannot wait to be back for summer in Lancaster city.

Everyone loves food. Did you have any interesting dishes while abroad? Did you love or hate them?

My host mom is an excellent chef; she makes wonderful food from all over the francophone world, from Reunion Island to the South of France. One unfortunate meal, however, was a major hit with my host brother, and an absolute trial to swallow for me. Pinkish, warmish, pureed fish spread on bread, it’s tough to ruin French bread but this certainly did!

What is something you’ve seen abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

The school hosts major parties! The University itself is instrumental in the organizing, supporting and creation of major events. In fact, just a few weeks before the horrific terror attacks on Paris, my school rented out the entire Bataclan Theatre for a huge integration party. It was a bit surprising to me at first that the school would host such events, but as I have come to understand youth culture more here, it makes all the more sense to me, and actually is quite a cool opportunity to meet my peers in a very different environment.

What is your favorite part about being in such an international and culturally diverse city like Paris? Has this helped refine your worldview at all?

Cultural diversity to me is like warm weather and a sea breeze, I always want to be around it; soothing and exciting at the same time. In one conversation there can be three language shifts, two miscommunication and a host of questions raised as we discover each other’s traditions and mannerisms. I love this. Paris is a big city made up of a patchwork of littler neighborhoods, each with a distinct culture. These come together under the banner of Paris and French, and the product is this exciting, globalized atmosphere. My favorite time to observe this is on the Metro: a vigilant eavesdropper can spot an array of languages, styles, etiquettes, etc. It is magnificent. It only makes me want to travel more.

Due to the recent events in Paris, how have you been impacted, has your view of the U.S. or France changed?

The horrific war in Syria and across the Middle East has seemed so far from us all this time but it really is not far at all, it is at our doorstep. This realization has changed the way I think. I need my life to impact people for the better; I need to get involved, to stay informed, and to be present. I think this lit a fire under me and inspired what I would like to dedicate my life to doing.

The recent events in Paris were certainly eye opening, and very discomforting. We don’t like to be reminded that we’re mortal, but it is important that we know we are. At the time, I did not realize how close I was to mortal danger but in the days since I have had plenty of time to think about all the ways that night could have ended differently, gone totally wrong for me. In the same stride, however, I have resolved to not be shaken. As someone who believes in Jesus and the freedom he provides from slavery to the fear of death, I refuse to allow acts of terror to hinder my life; I need not be enslaved to this fear that I may die. People have had to carry on as life resumed all around Paris and this is as it should be. Even as I write this, I am sitting in a café across the street from two of the attack locations, cafés now covered with flowers, candles, and memorial images and words. Pedestrians stop to take a photo and be silent for a moment, but then they keep walking to their destinations. They keep going, we keep going.

How has your perspective of International Studies changed after taking classes abroad? Were there any classes that you really enjoyed or helped you think about your field of study in a different way?

My classes have been quite euro-centric, a good change of pace from the US-perspective that we get so used to back home. My favorite class has been one on the art movement of Impressionism in France in the late nineteenth century. The movement is full of such important works and is responsible for a lot of the changes we see in the art world. Getting familiar with these works in the vary place they were created has been exciting for me. My international economics class has also been extremely fascinating in giving me an understanding basis for a lot of the institutions and economic dilemmas across the world today.

Why should other MU students study abroad?

There really is nothing else quite like it. It is an opportunity to be in a student environment, which is already unique, surrounded by customs and ways of life that are unusual and rich. If you are open to being uncomfortable for a few months the payoff is huge. Yes, I miss my family and friends. Yes, sometimes I just want to leave. At the same time, every day is something new. Every person I encounter is someone I never would have if I had not decided to come here, every friend I make, food I taste, place I go, the list goes on and on. Travelling opens the world up, my options for what I can do seem to broaden with every new place to which I go, even if that place is just a new neighborhood in this magnificent city.

 

Number Crunch: International Students (Fall 2015)

International Student Statistics

This semester 38 new international students joined the student body here at Millersville.

Out of those 38:

  • 15 are exchange students from one of Millersville’s study abroad partner programs
  • 20 are a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students from Millersville’s partner institutions who are here for a semester or academic year to enhance their home university degree programs
  • 4 plan to earn their undergraduate degree while at Millersville
  •  2 plan to earn their graduate degree while at Millersville

Currently there are a few of the 20 students here from our partner schools who are applying to become transfer degree seeking students because they have enjoyed their first semester at MU so much!

Locations:

  • 1 student is from Australia
  •  7 are from South America
  •  8 are from Europe
  • 19 are from Asia

Students by Major/Area of Study:

 

 

Xinyang Normal University Delegation Visit

Xinyang Normal University Delegation Visit

November 23, 2015 

On the cold morning of Monday November 23, 2015, an exciting event took place at Millersville. This event marked a new change in our University’s history as a new partnership was formed between Xinyang Normal University in Xinyang, China and Millersville University.

This new partnership means that students and faculty from both universities will be able to study and conduct research at the other institution. It is expected that starting Fall 2016, we will have professors from XNU join Millersville’s faculty and guest lecture, MU professors will also be able to  guest lecture at XNU. This partnership also means that students from XNU will have the opportunity to study at Millersville and be immersed in the American college culture.

About Xinyang Normal University:

Xinyang, the city where Xinyang Normal University (XYNU) is located, is just south of Henan. It is known to be an excited city full of inspiration and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1975, XYNU was at the time just a sub-college in Xinyang City affiliated to the then Kaifeng Teachers’ College. With 19 colleges, one independent college and three teaching and researching sections, XYNU is qualified to confer bachelor’s degrees in 65 programs and master’s degrees in a variety of academic disciplines o including: literature, history, natural science, engineering, economics, management, law, education and arts.

For 40 years since its foundation, in light of the spirit of “Diligence, Integrity, and Practicality”, XYNU has been committed to cultivating innovative and pragmatic students with high professionalism and moral characters in their desired academic discipline. Based on the present inviting campus environment, fine school spirit, and good teaching quality, XYNU plans to continue its endeavors for an optimal education quality, overall efficiency, and steadfast sail toward a teaching-research-oriented university featuring prominent teacher education and coordinated multi-disciplinary development.

Given XNU’s impressive reputation as an institution, Millersville is greatly looking forward to what exciting opportunities lay ahead and the collaboration that this new partnership will create.

Photo Highlights – Fall 2015 Contest Winners

Study Abroad Photo Contest

 

Marauders Abroad

Winners

"La Campana" Submitted by: Sophia Zinobile, Valparaiso, Chile.
A Moment at the Edge of the World Submitted by Nikki Schaffer, Glasgow, Scotland.

                                                                                              

Landscapes & Landmarks

 Winners

The Duomo Submitted by: Hannah Meir, Florence, Italy
Castillo Wulff Submitted by: Sophia Zinobile, Valparaiso, Chile.  

People & Culture

 Winners

 Las Fallas submitted by Jamie Burkhart, Valencia, Spain. 

Dancing at Sunset Submitted by: Katherine Rinehart, Sippy Downs, Australia

Marauders in Action

 Winners

 

Feeding the Locals submitted by: Katherine Rinehart, Slippy Downs, Australia

 

 Hiking through Cinque Terre  submitted by Hannah Meir, Florence, Italy.

Skully Abroad

 Winner 

  Camel Ride Through the Hot Sun submitted by: Jasmine Turner, Burgos, Spain.

Number Crunch – 13 Different Countries!

Millersville University is excited to be sending students to study abroad in 13 different countries over this summer and fall! These students will be heading off to explore the world through a variety of different programs. Some will be traveling abroad for a week, and some will be abroad for an entire academic year

32 students will be heading to either Iceland, Northern Ireland, or Costa Rica for Millersville Professor lead courses. These are summer session courses that culminate with a short trip to the country they have been learning about.

20+ students will be spending three weeks abroad this summer through programs run by Maryville University (Missouri). Our students will be dispersed in programs run in Oxford, England, Paris, France, and Florence, Italy. These courses are taught by a mix of faculty from various institutions. MU has four of our very own professors teaching through this program.

18 students will be studying abroad through Millersville Partner Programs. Millersville has a close relationship or exchange agreement with these international universities. These students will be packing their bags to immerse themselves in the UK, Japan, Chile, Spain, France, Germany and more!

11 students will be studying abroad through non-Millersville programs. These programs are not affiliated with MU. Students found their program on their own and received approval from the Office of Global Education. Students studying through non-MU programs will be traveling to South Korea, Italy, Russia, Norway and beyond!

2 education majors will be completing the second half of their student teaching experience abroad! These students hope to be placed in Australia and Japan. They are eager to gain additional classroom experience while learning about teaching techniques in  a new country and culture.

  2 of our students will be interning in South Africa and Canada! Millersville has relationships with two different intern abroad programs. The student interning abroad in South Africa this summer is our first psychology major completing an international internship.

This summer and fall will certainly be an exciting time for our MU students to seize the opportunity. Millersville is proud of our Marauders around the world!

An MU Student Perspective – Nicole Schaffer

The Office of Global Education & Partnerships offers educational and professional opportunities abroad for many Millersville students each semester. Our university partners and other program providers around the world give students the chance for a once in a lifetime international experience. For some students like Nicole Schaffer, this experience may even come around twice! We had the opportunity to interview Nicole while studying abroad at our partner University in Glasgow, Scotland. Check out her responses below about her experience thus far and how her time abroad is preparing her for graduation in the spring.

Name: Nicole Schaffer
Age: 21
Major and/or Minor: English B.A. with a minor in journalism
Host University/Program: University of Strathclyde
Host City, Country: Glasgow, Scotland
Time period abroad: Spring 2015

Why did you choose to study abroad in Scotland?

I chose to study abroad in Scotland because I have always been fascinated by its beauty—especially finding myself drawn to the unnatural green hills and ethereal wonder of the highlands. I wanted to explore a place which has been romanticized in literature since the 18th century; a land where highland cows roam, castle ruins overlook lochs, and it isn’t uncommon to see a kilt or hear the reverberating sound of bagpipes filling the streets. Studying at Strathclyde University in Glasgow allows me to get a feel for the city, just minutes away from the center, and gives me a chance to interact with the locals and experience the Glaswegian culture.

Describe something you did for the first time while studying abroad or a specific memory that you have about your time in Scotland.

A new experience I had while in Scotland was attending a traditional Scottish dance, called a Ceilidh. These dances feature live music and anyone who doesn’t know a dance will learn because they announce the steps at the start of each one. Group dances are the most fun because they can be chaotic as everyone tries to remember the correct movements and directions, then thirty seconds later you switch groups again! For one of these dances I was partnered with a guy from Northern Ireland who was also attending Strathclyde. He must have thought I was either a complete idiot or a terrible dancer, because at this one point in the dance everyone looks at the couple at the front, and during this moment, my shoe happened to half-fall off my foot and I ended up spinning in the wrong direction. Of course no one noticed my foot half out of my shoe, they just saw my horrified expression as I tried to recover from the embarrassment of ruining the dance.

One of the best memories I have so far sounds so ordinary, but it was rolling down a huge hill. It was the greenest hill I have ever beheld, and its incline was perfectly suited for such a venture. At the time I was on a group tour and one of the stops along the way was a beach, which is where this hill happened to be found. Anyone who sees this hill has the same idea, because it is that perfect. I happened to roll down at the same time as two of my other friends, which wasn’t a smart idea because two of us actually ended up colliding, but it was a dizzying/fantastic feeling and something I had never done before.

What is something you’ve seen abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

Men walking around in kilts!

Have you experienced culture shock? Explain how.

I wouldn’t say I have experienced culture shock, but there are definitely some notable differences. For example, everyone here—even students on Monday mornings—dress up. Every day wear here does not consist of yoga pants and sweats like you see across American universities. It’s actually really nice to see this higher standard of dressing because everyone is so fashionable. The university’s atmosphere is also quite laid back compared to universities at home. Latecomers are welcome because class usually doesn’t begin until at least five after the given time, and the passing grade here is only 40%. So far this has been a refreshing break compared to the stress I usually feel juggling classes each semester.

We understand you participated on the MU Course Abroad to Iceland last summer. How does Iceland compare to Scotland?

In my mind, nothing can ever compare to Iceland’s vast wilderness, but Scotland comes pretty close. While Scotland is obviously more populous with larger cities, Iceland’s main city, Reykjavik is much smaller, but strangely enough, these two cities have something in common: they both celebrate self-expression. You will find many cool art murals and hear musicians playing in the street around both Glasgow and Reykjavik. Aesthetically, they are both beautiful, but Iceland will always win in this regard due to its many waterfalls, glaciers and geothermal hot spots.

How do you think your experience abroad will help you after graduation?

I think I have developed many skills that will serve me well in the real world—specifically the ability to adapt and think in various perspectives, have ultimately helped me to gain a better understanding of who I am. Befriending so many unique individuals and experiencing so many diverse places instills an excitement in you to live differently.

International Student Spotlight – Meet Ismail Bennani

It’s time for another International Student Spotlight! Have you ever thought of what Millersville looks like from an international student’s perspective? Meet Ismail, one of our exchange students from our partner institution, l’Université de Caen in Caen, France. Read more to find out what Ismail has to say about his experience thus far at Millersville!

Name: Ismail Bennani

Age: 24 years old

Hometown: France

Home university: Université de Caen – Partner Institution

Field of study: Management and International Business

 

Why did you decide to study abroad in the United States, specifically at Millersville University?                          

I always wanted to study in the United States. It is a huge country that I have never visited before. The education has a good reputation. Also this experience will help me improve my English.

I Choose Millersville because it is one of the universities that have an exchange program with my home university

What is the coolest place you visited while studying abroad?

Actually, I liked Miami and DC. These are the most beautiful cities I have visited in the USA.
What is the biggest cultural difference between Caen and Millersville?

I believe that the biggest cultural difference between Caen and Millersville is behaviors of the students. In Millersville, I can speak to everybody. The students are very friendly and open minded. Instead, Caen’s students are very distant and it is very difficult for a foreigner to have friends.

What are you most looking forward to when you return home?

I would like to spend a lot of time with my family, my friends and my girlfriend. Also, I would like to eat French food because I miss it so much.

What did you gain academically and/or professionally?

It was a challenge for me to study in English because it is my fourth foreign language. Also, the classes are different from my home university. Therefore, it was very interesting and challenging to study in Millersville

What food or drink do you miss most from France?

I miss Red wine and la raclette (potatoes with cheese)

What travel plans do you want to make next?

I am willing to go to the west coast after the end of the classes. I would like to visit Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

What did you like best about Millersville and the United States?

I really appreciate the life in the university because there are a lot of activities in Millersville. Also the best thing in the USA is that there are a lot of big cities to visit.

 

Social Justice Story Telling in Rwanda

On a cold and snowy weekend in February, a group of nearly thirty students, administrators and community leaders came together for a two-day Changes through Stories workshop which was facilitated by Dr. Andrew Kahn from Buffalo State University and Director of the Anne Frank Project (AFP).

The AFP story-building curriculum teaches skills and enriched vocabulary that will impact communities, families and students alike and is available world-wide. The process is based on Devised Theater (DT) – theater that begins without a script. As rehearsals take place, improvisations, collaborations, explorations and research are conducted. At the end the group creates their own story! The story is then created by a group of artists (the collaborative team) who become the actors, musicians, writers and directors – this collaborative group explores a given topic through an active process which is continuously edited, expanded and defined on its journey from idea to the public sharing of that story. “What is best for the story?” is the question that must take priority over all other personal and individual goals.

Dr. Timothy Shea, Director of the Office of Global Education and Partnerships and Associate Professor of English at Millersville University envisions this eclectic group taking DT training and applying it to social justice storytelling projects locally, nationally, and globally. To that end, he is planning to take students to Rwanda in January 2016 for an MU inaugural multi-disciplinary service learning project that will involve combining education, social work, English, drama, genocide studies, and the arts under the umbrella of storytelling.

He will co-lead this project with Drs. Kirsten Bookmiller, Robert Bookmiller, and Caleb Corkery.

Some participants of the Change Through Stories Workshop also plan to participate in the Anne Frank Social Justice Festival at Buffalo State University in September where they will share ideas of incorporating social justice through storytelling in their own communities. Dr. Shea is thrilled with the opportunities that our students have to use this training and experience to bring change and healing to their own marginalized communities.

The Rwanda program will be offered to both undergrad and graduate students in a number of different majors with the dream of seeing how it will in turn transform their own communities. What role will YOU play in this dramatic storytelling adventure?

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue, then you have something very special.” –Nelson Mandela

 

An Evening Full of International Celebrations

Celebrating study abroad does not only happen when a student leaves the comfort of Millersville University.  The Office of Global Education and International Studies hosted their 6th Annual Celebration for International Education event on April 20, 2015. Faculty, staff, international exchange students and recipients and past study abroad participants all came together to celebrate international educational experiences. The evening included a motivational and successful guest speaker, a few words from President John Anderson, and a ceremony to honor exceptional international student work.

To start off the night, Dr. Vilas Prahbu, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave an invigorating speech that revolved around his connection to international education. Since he was an international student himself, he made it a point to recognize the international students who have spent the semester or academic year at MU and congratulated them on completing their time at Millersville University.

Guest speaker of the night Holly Hutton (Millersville University ’99) gave a motivational and encouraging speech on three important lessons needed to succeed in life after graduation for those who have studied abroad.  Those lessons included finding a mentor, get out there and lean on me. “Surround yourself with love and motivation and inspiration because the journey is never taken in isolation,” said Hutton who is currently an Associate Attorney at Trow & Rahal and has been working in the field of immigration since 1999. She also has experience as a Designated School Official at Virginia Tech University managing immigration and support services for thousands of international students. Hutton is fluent in Spanish, previously studying and working in Mexico and Costa Rica and has a basic understanding of Turkish and Italian.

Dr. Robert Bookmiller also inducted several students into the Gamma Phi chapter of Sigma Iota Rho, the International Honors Society of Millersville University for their hard work and dedication to international study. Congratulations to the following students:

Elizabeth Brand

Jennifer L. DeWalt

Sarina Ponce-Garcia

Andrew Roth

Lillian Stoltzfus

                                                               Kaitlyn Lundy

In addition to these students, three others were recognized for their contribution to the Global Education Ambassadors Program. This program allows past participants to share their study abroad experiences. Ambassadors are able to share their study abroad stories through creative outlets while maintaining their passion for the program. Congratulations to the following students on their achievements:

Steven Rivera-Camacho

Kaitlyn Hickey

Alycia Franks

Finally, the Director of the Office of Global Education, Dr. Timothy Shea, announced that any student, who will be graduating this upcoming May, will be recognized as a study abroad participant by the new graduation cords that will provided to all of our graduates.

To close out the evening, President John Anderson gave a few words on the importance of studying abroad and how it has impacted him personally with both of his daughters having abroad experiences during their undergraduate careers.   In closing the president stated “We hope to provide more of our students with the opportunity to have more international educational experiences.”

Overall, the evening was a successful celebration of all things international at Millersville University.

New in 2015 – Graduation Cords!

As many of the impending graduates are excited about obtaining their diplomas on May 9th, the Office of Global Education & Partnerships is excited to announce the new addition to the cap and gown attire – study abroad graduation cords! As with any honor, it is important to us that our students who participated in a study abroad program get recognized for taking their educational studies abroad and seizing the opportunity.

The cords are green and blue, the colors of the Global Education and Partnerships office. We wish all of our past participants the best of luck in their future endeavors and to never stop experiencing new places, people and cultures.

Please keep in touch and let us know where life takes you!

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