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June 10, 2005

ULM Students Study Abroad for the Summer

Parlez-vous francais?

Well, it helps, especially if you're a University of Louisiana at Monroe French major readying to study abroad for the summer.

On July 6, Lisa Peterson, from Monroe, will join the Summer Immersion Program at Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, Nova Scotia. For five weeks, she will experience total French immersion. No English speech is allowed anywhere on campus (except for the occasional call home).

"I do speak a decent amount of French, but I'm definitely far from fluent," Peterson said, who also has a concentration in global studies. "I am hoping, however that after five weeks of nothing but French that I will be. This will obviously be a huge help with my major. Also, learning about the cultures of the people of French Canada will be a big help in the global studies aspect."

Peterson's specific program will have her living in a dorm on the campus there and going to classes in the morning. Students in the program can take part in extra activities like whale watching.

Peterson's French studies began at Neville High School in Monroe under Valerie Matejowsky, who now teaches at ULM. So far, Peterson has completed fifteen hours of French at ULM.

"We have great French teachers here, and I've learned a lot from them," Peterson said. "They've been a big help to me both in the classroom and outside of it. Thanks to all this, I feel pretty well-prepared for my semester abroad. I'm definitely excited that I'll be visiting a such a beautiful place, especially one right on the ocean."

Peterson plans to return on August 3.

Three other ULM French students have earned opportunities to study abroad this summer. French minors Francesca Clark, from Eunice, and Brandon McQuillin, from Calhoun, will also participate in the same immersion program with Peterson. Kristina Lang, a French major from Houston, Texas, received a scholarship from CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana) to take courses on language and culture at the Université de Mons in Belgium this July. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board for the month-long program.

"These students are taking the ultimate step in their study of the language-they're going to learn, eat, play, dream, live and breathe in French," Dr. Chris Michaelides, associate professor of French and president of the CODOFIL Consortium, said. "It's something that takes courage, especially at the beginning, but that can also be a lot of fun and, for many students, a truly life-changing experience. And when they return to ULM in the fall, we'll have them share their experiences with students here, so that others will be encouraged to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities."

By Sara Palazzo

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