I began learning French when I was nine or ten years old. I would check out CDs from the local library and teach myself the language. Once I started taking French classes in middle school, it became my dream to travel to France one day.
My Dad had studied abroad while he was in college and I realized that this could be my way of getting to France. As a freshman at Mary Washington, I began to plan my trip and then studied abroad in the spring of my sophomore year.
The experience was everything I had hoped it would be and, most importantly, it allowed me to visualize how I could return and live in France (or Europe in general) for a more permanent amount of time. Studying abroad profoundly influenced my life path because, once I graduated from UMW, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Paris. I was perfectly prepared for this, having become fluent in French and familiar with the rigors of living there.
I have numerous stories from studying in France as an undergraduate and living there as a graduate. One of my favorite memories is from last year when two other UMW alumna traveled to Paris and the three of us visited Bordeaux. We explored French wine country together, including a small town called Saint-Emilion complete with cobbled walkways, hillside vineyards and sun-kissed verandas for enjoying a glass or two.
Sarah Dickshinski, UMW Alum