Tell us why you decided to do this program.
Second semester of my sophomore year, the COVID-19 pandemic minimized a lot of my options to have a normal study abroad experience. I’d planned to participate in the Duke in Greece summer program as well as spend a semester in Paris; however, I was incredibly grateful when the Duke in Provence summer program was offered virtually over the 2021 Summer because I was still able to spend 6-weeks talking to native French speakers and connecting with them over Zoom. I knew that my French speaking skills would improve over the course of the program, but I knew that participating in an internship in a different country would help me learn more about the French business culture as well.
Compare how your skills or knowledge changed after doing this program.
One of my favorite parts of our coursework during Duke in Provence was listening to all of my classmates’ final projects. We were allowed to research any topic we wanted related to the region of Provence ranging from the food culture to architecture to World War II history. From the beginning of the program to this point of my final project, my French vocabulary and skills had expanded as well as my understanding of both the amazing contributions and more difficult struggles of Provence today. I never thought that I would be able to present research for 20 minutes in French, so I would say I’ve grown a lot thanks to Duke in Provence!
Tell us about your greatest takeaway from this program.
The greatest takeaway I have from this program is the relationships I’ve built with the people I met (virtually) in France. Our internship coordinator lives in Paris and my boss during my internship lives in Marseille, so I know that when I visit France someday, I’ll be able to meet them in person and continue to have these relationships after the program ends. I truly learned so much from them during our weekly meetings and memories of their kindness is really what I’ll remember from this experience.
How did/will this program affect your career interests or next steps after graduation?
Before the Duke in Provence program, I was planning on minoring in French. However, this experience made me a lot more curious about French culture, especially because I hadn’t explored the region of Provence until this program. Since the program is only 6 weeks, we were only able to scratch the surface of some intricate topics in France and Europe like the economy or immigration or les banlieues (like projects or suburbs in the US). Based on these interests, I decided to change my minor to a major and, after graduation, I will commission into the US Air Force. One of my goals now is to apply for the Language Enabled Airman Program and volunteer to be based or to train in a Francophone country in order to continue to build intercultural relationships and keep growing beyond college.
What advice do you have for other students considering this program?
My advice is to be ready to work hard! You get out of the program what you put into it, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or to be curious about certain things. Oftentimes in French internships, you’ll need to have a lot of initiative and come up with your own research or work that you want to explore. You won’t always have people telling you exactly what to do which gives you space to be creative, which is awesome!