Belen Vertiz

Studying abroad had been on my wish list for a couple of years because I love learning about different cultures and customs. As a French minor at Henderson State, I felt like I needed to do something else to expand my knowledge. Dr. Gudrian shared information about an intensive French program in Quebec; at first I thought it was just a conversation, but I applied and got accepted. Before I knew it, I was packing my suitcase to leave for an unknown city.

I had never been out of the country alone. The thought of it terrified me, yet thrilled me. What I feared the most was getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Alaska or some other country. I had a long, anxious five-hour flight from Houston to Montreal. I knew that my journey alone would start once I landed in Montreal.

Being in Trois-Rivières, Quebec was exciting, but I was still nervous. Thankfully, the professors were very laid back and willing to help in everything. The hardest part was being in class where I felt everyone else understood a higher level of French than I did. It was difficult to express myself when I did not know the terminology. But before I knew it, I was writing a paper every night in French, dreaming in French, and talking to my new friends in French. French was all around me, making it hard to get away from the language, so I just grew with it. The best thing was that without even noticing it, I was learning.

Studying abroad was a challenge for me. I missed my mom’s homemade cooking the most. Being in a country where you do not know the streets, the language, or the people was tough. I got lost more than once, and many times I tried to communicate with others and failed. However, I learned so much from this trip; I learned that it is okay to take chances and to be spontaneous. My small adventure was stressful and hard, but it taught me to have patience with myself and to be motivated in my education.