Study Abroad Journal: Emily Kormann, '16

January 01, 2015

Emily Kormann

Emily Kormann reflects on what she hopes to gain through her study abroad experience in Nantes, France.

Studying abroad is becoming more and more real by the day – I have accepted my spot at IES Abroad in Nantes, France, bought my plane tickets, emailed with my host family, and chosen the luggage that I’ll soon be packing a semester’s worth of my life into. I am feeling nervous and excited by turns, but I’m hoping that excitement prevails soon as I get closer to leaving. I’ve been meditating more on what I want this experience of studying abroad to be, and here’s what I have so far:

I want to speak French fluently, or at least something approaching fluency, after this semester, and a huge step toward that goal will be complete immersion. Despite the many French books I read, French movies I watch, and French songs I listen to, I’m still in the United States surrounded by English speakers and can disconnect from French at any time. While in Nantes, I want to come back from a literature class where we analyzed a French classic – maybe Flaubert’s Madame Bovary– and continue speaking French when I get home with my host parents, telling them about the delay on the tram on my way to class or a particularly insightful comment uttered by one of my classmates. That skill, the ability to speak articulately even after a long and potentially stressful day, is one of two things I most hope to gain in Nantes. The other, mastering non-academic French, is one that also can only be learned in France. By studying in Nantes, I’ll be able to learn new facets of the French language. A real, spoken language is often different from the language we learn in a classroom; connotations of words, vernacular phrases, and idiomatic expressions are all necessary components of language but are difficult – almost impossible – to master in a classroom setting.

I also just want to enjoy my time abroad. This will be my first time leaving the United States, so I really want to visit as many places as I can while still fully appreciating where I am in Nantes. By the time I come home in June, I hope to have visited Prague, Krakow, Vienna, Berlin, and as many other places as I can, but I hope I will have also identified which café in Nantes has the best coffee and which park I find the most peaceful. I’m going to try appreciating the little things in Nantes first, like which boulangerie I prefer, and work my way up to the big stuff, like which European city I’ll be jetting off to next weekend.

-- Emily Kormann, '16