You could say that I owe my existence to study abroad – my parents met when my father studied in Vienna during his junior year in college. As a child I also spent summers in Europe, visiting with family and friends. In high school, I visited Paris for the first time, with my mother. We hopped on a train from Vienna, with no plans and no hotel reservations. I knew a little French, so I became the official guide and translator. Amazingly enough, everything worked out fine, and in the nearly 30 years since then I’ve had so many wonderful trips back to France that I’ve lost count.
After majoring in French at Vassar College, and spending my Junior Year Abroad in Paris, I continued on for graduate work in French at New York University. While working on my doctoral thesis, I spent two years living in France – one in Paris, one in Brittany. Since receiving my Ph.D, I have taught at Vassar College, at The Culinary Institute of America and, since 1995, at NC State University.
At NC State, I teach all levels of French, coordinate the upper-division French program, and offer interdisciplinary seminars for the Masters in Liberal Studies (MALS) program. I have also lectured on French culture and art at the North Carolina Museum of Art and for the UNC Program in Humanities and Human Values. A long-time supporter of study abroad, I have for many years evaluated scholarship applications for the Study Abroad Office; served as NC State representative for the UNC system-wide Exchange Program; set up NC State’s successful Lille Summer Study Abroad Program, then directed it in 2001 and 2002; and, developed and directed the Summer Program in Burgundy & Paris.
- My Program
- Advice for Students
- Advice for Faculty Directors
Where do you lead a program?
To Burgundy and Paris, France.
How long have you run your study abroad program?
What makes your study abroad program unique?
The Burgundy & Paris Program lasts only two weeks, which is perfect for those whose schedules will not allow them to travel for longer, or for those who have not traveled much before but wish to “get their feet wet.” The program’s dual focus on rural, traditional Burgundy, and bustling, cosmopolitan Paris, offers a study in contrasts, providing a well-balanced view of France and French culture. The syllabus and travel itinerary are fully-integrated, with classroom discussions complemented by extensive site visits. Finally, no French is required – all classes and tours are in English – and, while the program is intensive, there’s also time for students to explore on their own.
What stands out as your favorite memory from the study abroad programs that you have directed?
When we all got drenched in Dijon! We were on our way to the train station, after a lovely day in town. All of a sudden, the skies opened up, and we were caught in a torrential downpour. No one got hurt, nobody’s things were damaged, but we were all absolutely soaked and, on the ride back to our home base in Montbard, we laughed and laughed about what had happened. It just seemed like great fun at the time but, in retrospect, I think it was such an extraordinary moment because it also offered a tangible metaphor for study abroad: the shock and delight of the unexpected, a giddy sense of immersion in the unfamiliar, and the satisfaction of tackling new challenges together.
If you could give prospective students one piece of advice about
study abroad, what would it be?
Pack lightly, including mental and emotional “baggage” – travel abroad with as open a mind as possible.
What are you looking for from the students who apply to your program?
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Faculty Director?
Seeing familiar things anew, through my students’ eyes. I have spent so much time in Europe, and in France in particular, that little surprises me anymore. But I’m always delighted to be there with my students, as they explore, discover, and reflect upon the experience.
If you could give new Faculty Directors of study abroad programs one piece of advice about leading a program, what would it be?
Don’t worry, things will work out, even if they end up working out differently – and sometimes wonderfully differently – from how you had planned.
What marketing tips would you suggest to your fellow Faculty Directors to encourage more NC State students to study abroad?
Let your destination and your program speak for themselves, through images of the places students will visit, and of their peers experiencing this before them. You can take your own digital photos, and ask students for permission to use theirs, then incorporate these into a PowerPoint slideshow. Along similar lines, you can send prospective students on a ‘virtual tour’ of the program, by e-mailing them appropriate links (e.g. the Louvre’s official website, an online review of a restaurant for a group dinner, or an NPR piece about the Tour de France passing through a medieval town that’s on our itinerary as well).