Marta Martínez Fernández, Connecticut College

Fall 2016
Marta Martinez Fernandez copy
: French, International Relations

Why did you choose JYF in Paris?
As a Sophomore student at Connecticut College, I was looking at ways to internationalize my major and overall academic experience. I am a French and International Relations double-major and JFY offered the possibility to take courses at local universities in Paris, which I knew I wanted to do. It was the best choice – I managed to improve my French significantly, not only through my classes (all of which were in French) but also by living with a host family that treated me like one of them and made me feel at home away from home.

Where did you study while in Paris?
I studied at La Sorbonne (Paris IV) and also took two classes at Reid Hall (Sweet Briar’s base in Paris)

Expression écrite (Sweet Briar, JYF in Paris)
Langue et culture française: preliminary orientation
Histoire de l’art français due 18e au 19e siècle (Sweet Briar, JYF in Paris)
Histoire de la contruction européenne (Université de Paris 4- La Sorbonne)
Le Moyen Orient an XX3 siècle (Université de Paris 4- La Sorbonne)

Were your courses approved to count for your major(s) or Minor(s)?
Yes, all the four of them.

What were the best parts of the experience for you?
It was the combination of the whole experience. We started off the fall semester going to Tours, a city two hours south of Paris. My experience there was already memorable: I took courses at l’Institut de la Touraine, with two phenomenal teachers. Two weeks later we arrived to Paris and our experiences at La Ville Lumiere began. I lived ten minutes walking distance from Notre Dame, took classes four days a week and worked babysitting three days a week. These chances allowed me to be really exposed to the French culture. Sweet Briar did the best it could to help us get the best possible experience. Going to class at Reid Hall, talking to the administrators of Sweet Briar, attending cultural events (including a lovely evening at La philarmonie!) and an unforgettable trip to Normandy are some of my personal favorites. I will forever remember our thanksgiving dinner all together as well as a half-day course to learn how to make “macarons”.

What was your greatest challenge?
The French academic system is very different to what we are used to in the United States and other countries, and whereas it can seem intimidating in the beginning, I can guarantee you it gets better. By the end of your stay, it is definitely worth taking a look at how you struggled the first days of class and see how much you’ve grown!

What advice would you give to future students?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and speak in French since day 1, even if you think you are terrible. I had only studied French for two years before coming to Paris and my level of French has improved significantly since I first arrived here. With Sweet Briar at Paris you have the best support system of great administrators and professors that will help you transition to what I will remember as one of the best decisions of my life.