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A semester in PARIS

Students from Asbury University recently returned from spending their last semester  studying abroad in Paris.

Linda Stratford, director of the Paris semester, said the program intends to focus on history and language study while also offering a field practicum that is matched to each student’s need.

“The program motivates and prepares students to be effective global citizens,” Stratford said. “The program broadens the global learning impact of the typical undergraduate degree. One recent student participant also described the three-month program as ‘a crash course in adulthood.’”

The trip consisted of a full 15-hour semester where students in all major fields, including those from other universities, are invited to participate and earn liberal arts credit. The program is offered at the same price of a normal semester at Asbury, with the additional cost of travel and spending.

Knowing French is not required, although is an option to learn at an additional cost. A homestay is also an option for those students who attend and are French majors. Students learn to function in a large cosmopolitan area, Stratford said, while also becoming engaged in a culture and language which is not their own.

“This is tremendously challenging,” Stratford said. “And is the reason why a selective entry process is used to admit participants.”

Alexa Goins, an  assistant with the Asbury Paris Program, said the university believes international experiences are important.

As a requirement of the university, she said students need to complete a cross-cultural experience before graduation. While some choose to go on mission trips, Goins said students can also choose to study abroad to fulfill the requirement, such as with the Asbury Paris program.

“I participated in the Paris semester program first as a student in the fall of 2015, then as the program assistant with the fall 2017 cohort,” Goins said. “The Paris semester was truly a life-changing experience for me and I know it is for so many of the students who get the opportunity to do it. It gave me the courage and footing to return to France to teach English after I graduated from the university. It sparked a hunger in me to see as much of the world as possible, the desire to learn about other cultures and the challenge to immerse myself in languages other than English at any chance I get.”

Goins said the Paris semester through Asbury teaches students independence she believes cannot easily be learned anywhere else.

Stephen Kayser, a sophomore and art major at Asbury University, said he enjoyed spending time in the classroom learning about various paintings and artists and then being able to spend the next week visiting museums seeing the art up close, right in front of his own eyes.

“These museums contain the likes of Van Gogh and Monet,” Kayser said. “Classic paintings like ‘Liberty Leading the People’ and ‘Mona Lisa’— yes, the ‘Mona Lisa.’ It is bringing history to life and it has been quite an experience for me.”