Meet Jiana Brown

Program and Location:

Summer, French Language and Culture in Lille & Paris: Lille, France

Major/Minor:

Communication Media and French Language and Literature / Arts Entrepreneurship

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I’d always dreamed of going abroad since I started learning French in kindergarten and throughout public school within the Internal Baccalaureate program. In elementary, I developed a passion for language learning and understanding other cultures. One of the first info sessions that I attended with my parents was for study abroad even before I was officially a student at State. Despite having fears for studying abroad since I was the only person in my family to even own a passport, having the encouragement of my family and my professors helped me take the steps to apply for the program in France in the fall of my Sophomore year.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned a lot about myself during my study abroad experience but the biggest thing was understanding the importance of self-confidence. I’ve always been independent and self motivated but I’ve also always tended to doubt myself. Being abroad forced me to accept my ability to adapt and function as an adult. I came home with a new self-confidence I wouldn’t have without studying abroad. I was able to travel alone to Switzerland and see the top of the Alps (heights are not my thing), I was able to adapt when I left my room key in another city (don’t worry, I called the hotel and got my key back), and I was able to speak comfortably with natives in French (whereas I would normally get shy just speaking to other students back home).

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

I’m grateful for the many experiences the program gave me whether that was exploring the streets of Paris, taking a bike tour in Versailles or living like a native in Lille, but one of my favorite parts was making connections with people. The connections I made with those while abroad really made my experience as good as it was. Whether it was with those in program, kind vendors, or even those I knew that were living in France or on another study abroad program, I made sure to develop and deepen connections that will last a life time. Taking the time to engage with those around me really helped me take risks and experience the many adventures that came with studying abroad.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

I was surprised at how easily I could travel between countries. Outside of traveling within France, I went to London, England, Bruges and Brussels in Belgium, Cologne, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland. Most of those trips were on the weekends with people in my program or alone. Not having to worry about strict border patrol or confusing travel situations was a big plus!

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

Take your easiest classes abroad because they grade differently and mainly because you are abroad. Live life to the fullest and grasp every opportunity like it’s your last. I know sometimes it can be frustrating to speak in another language or hard being away from home, but if you view each opportunity as rare it helps make each adventure exciting! Even if I wasn’t going somewhere or doing something extravagant, I still was able to enjoy my time because I lived in the moment, enjoyed the people and engaged with the culture!

Would you do it again?

In a heartbeat, I can’t wait to go back!