Pa Kou Vang
Pa Kou is an Ambassador who studied abroad in France
Major: Sociology(Concentration: Anthropology)
Minor: Asian Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I was younger, I knew that France had their own population of Hmong people and that was the first thing that spark my interest in France. I then took French all throughout high school hoping that I would be able to travel to France one day. I also want to volunteer abroad someday and it's possible that the country could be a francophone, thus I chose France.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The food may look weird, but they are delicious! I tried fois gras, which is geese liver and it's pretty amazing.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Cannes is an amazing location. The campus is international, thus you meet a lot of cool people from different countries. It is also literally across the street from the beach. Public transportation is really efficient and easy to use. But everything in town in walking distance. The seminars were fairly easy, but they have super long classes. But you also have 15 minute pauses during class where everyone goes and hangout at the cafe. I learned so much French. I believe I learned more French during that semester than I would have, if I was at CSBSJU. The excursions were amazing and all the sites related to what we were learning in the study abroad seminar, and that added to my appreciation of the sites.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Besides from learning the language and social customs and culture, you learn that you can do so many things by yourself, when you believed you couldn't before. You learn a lot about how things work in that country and reflect a lot on how things could be done differently back at home. Personally, I became more thoughtful of the things I took for granted at home. I also am more conscience about the way I behave in a society different from mine. Academically, I learned how to quickly adjust to different schedules and learning pace. Professionally, I learned how to communicate in way that was fitting to the people I was speaking to. For example, the French language has a formal and informal ways of speaking and the languages I speak do not have the different forms.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The experience is what you make of it. If you try to put yourself out there, you will most likely get what you expected to get out of it back. Take time to really know the students there and learn about opportunities there that could be a possible option to take in the future.