A World Politics and French major at Hamilton College, Claire Nam ’21 just started her classes in Paris. She describes what her first week was like for her.

What classes did you follow on your first week?

The four courses I took are “French Grammar”, “France-Europe”, “Anthropology and Sociology Of The Family”, and “Language and Society.” The grammar course is with Hamilton in France at Reid Hall, the France-Europe course is with the Consortium in the Madeleine neighborhood, and the other two are at the University of Paris Diderot.

How did this first week go?

It wasn’t as bad as I thought… but it was still overwhelming, especially with Paris Diderot, because the style of the classes is different. But it was definitely much better than I imagined. The Consortium courses and the Hamilton courses are more structured for international students, so it’s not as difficult, I think, as the Paris Diderot courses.

Generally, what’s different from studying on an American campus?

Compared to a small school where it’s a campus, it’s different because when I’m at Hamilton, I’m very obviously at school, whereas here, I’m in a big city. I guess that’s a good thing and a bad thing because in one way, you have everything else to explore, but also, there is a lot of self-discipline.

What do you like best about being a student in France, surrounded by French students, taking French classes?

I think it’s a good experience because Hamilton College is like a protected bubble, whereas here it’s more “real”, because it’s not like everyone around you is doing the same thing or everyone is a Hamilton student. I’m sure that I’ll improve much more in French than I would if I was at Hamilton. Right now it’s weird because I feel like I lost all the languages that I speak! It’s like I can’t speak any language… But because it’s immersive, it’s much quicker to pick up on stuff. Before when I would go to cafés or restaurants, it was very obvious that I did not speak French properly, but now sometimes they respond to me in French without moving to English!

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