So, imagine this scenario. The following is based on a true story.
You’ve been in Paris for the past three weeks on your study abroad, having the time of your life, eating way too many crepes, and now it’s time to head down to the coastal town of Nice for the last week.
Your train leaves at 10:49. You wake up at 8, finish packing, eat breakfast, and say goodbye to your host. You leave the apartment at 9:45 to get to the train station by around 10:15. When you get to the bus stop, a bus is just leaving. You try to wave him down but he wags his finger at you to say no. So you wait ten minutes for the next bus. Next thing you know, it’s somehow 10:30 and the bus is still basically where you got on. So you jump off the bus and into a taxi. The taxi driver tells you it’s a ten minute drive. Then, next thing you know, it’s 10:47 and you pull up in front of the train station, throw money at the driver, and start running like a crazy person screaming things like “Où est Hall 2?!” and “À quelle voie est le train pour Nice?!” and then a French man says to you in English “Too late, gone.” and you have a panic attack for a minute. That’s when you realize maybe you’re really not that calm in stressful situations like you say in all your job interviews so maybe you should rethink that statement.
After that, though, you do some breathing exercises, accept the fact that you’re buying a new train ticket, and get in line. When you get to the front, your card doesn’t work and you have another mini panic attack until you realize your card never works in those machines and you always have to type in the numbers but for some reason you can’t do that in France. Luckily you have an amazing friend named Sydnie who buys your ticket for you and you now owe her big time. Then you call your professor, explain what happened, and everything is fine. So you sit on a bench and stare at a wall for two hours. Then you get on the train with plenty of time to spare.
Okay, stop imagining.
This was the story of probably the most terrifying but most rewarding moment in my life. I went to France after my first year at SUU for my EDGE (Education Designed to Give Experience) project. This is a program where you choose from one of five centers on campus – Outdoor, Leadership, Creativity, Community, and Global – and design your own project to do outside of the classroom. I chose to do a study abroad and it was definitely amazing: incredible food, museums, shopping, amazing food, school, beaches, hikes, new friends (and delicious food).
I had been taking French in school for seven years but I wasn’t super confident in my ability to actually speak it to people, especially when I got there and tried to talk to my host family and all the students in my class, who were amazing at French. But, the longer I stayed, the better I became, and eventually it was all summed up in the situation described above. I missed my train and was all alone in a giant train station where no one spoke very good English. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was scared out of my mind, but I made it. It turns out my French actually was good enough for me to find myself a new ticket and the train I needed, and I’ve never felt more proud of myself.
I made it to Nice. I met my new host, Colette, who was an incredible cook. I had my own beautiful room. I spent the day walking along the beach of the Azur Coast. It was honestly perfect.
If it wasn’t for the EDGE program, I probably never would have had this amazing opportunity to spend a month of my life in France and grow personally in ways I couldn’t even imagine at the time. Plus, I got to knock out half the credits I needed for my French minor in just four weeks, in a different country, while paying the same tuition I pay at SUU. It was basically winning all around.
And the food… ahhh.
Shannon Doty is from Sandy, UT, and is a senior communication major at SUU. She has been involved on campus in many ways, which include being a Presidential Ambassador and working for the University Journal and the admissions office. She loves the personal attention she receives at SUU and has never regretted coming to school here