Hi! My name is Emily, and I’m a member of the class of 2024 at Colgate University. I studied abroad at Syracuse University’s spring 2023 and summer 2023 programs in Strasbourg, France! I chose this program because I’ve been studying French since I was nine years old; it’s been a lifelong goal of mine to become fluent, and what better way to achieve that than by living in France for six months?
During my spring semester in Strasbourg, I took international relations classes at the SU Center, as well as classes in a variety of subjects at a local French university. Half of my classes were in French, and the other half were in English, which certainly posed some challenges at the beginning of the semester, but I’m incredibly glad I did because it helped my French listening comprehension and writing skills tremendously.
My favorite class of the semester was HOA 350/FRE 439: Art in France from Impressionism to Surrealism. At the end of the semester, we took a weekend field trip to Paris to see these works that we had studied during our class, which brought the artwork alive in ways I never would have expected. I also participated in a community internship at a local French elementary/middle school each week.
During the summer, I was enrolled in FRE 350: French for Diplomacy at the SU Center, as well as participated in two community internships. One was at a nonprofit that helps integrate political and climate refugees into the EU community, and I also continued my spring semester internship at the same local school.
Education was a career path I’ve been waffling with for a couple years on and off, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to have consistent teaching practice. Seeing my students was the highlight of my week every single week, and because of my community internship, I’m very much interested in teaching a foreign language after I graduate in May 2024!
Whether you’re a Syracuse student or visiting, the SU Center staff was incredibly welcoming and a great resource to help you get settled in Strasbourg! Coming in as a visiting student, I was intimidated by the fact that most of the students were from Syracuse; these worries quickly disappeared when I met everyone on the first day. Everyone was so kind and friendly, and I still talk to my friends from both the spring and summer programs.
Strasbourg has two primary housing options, living at a student residence and living in a homestay with a French family. Most people in Strasbourg do homestays, and it makes for some really unique experiences! The homestay option was the right fit for me, as it helped advance my day-to-day conversational skills tremendously, as well as provide a source of additional community and comfort when I was feeling homesick.
I attended all of the Center-sponsored travel throughout the spring, and I also did a lot of weekend trips during my time in France to other nearby countries. I have some friends who preferred to fully immerse themselves in French culture by only traveling within the country, but I had a blast exploring other cultures! Some of my most memorable trips were to Budapest, Hungary; Porto, Portugal; and to Krakow, Poland.
If you’re on the fence about if study abroad is right for you, my advice would be to do it! I learned so much about myself academically, professionally, and personally in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise while on campus in upstate New York, and it was an incredibly eye-opening experience from start to finish.
Emily Balog ’24
Syracuse Strasbourg, spring and summer 2023