AUCP students have a lot in common. Whether they’re studying in Aix or in Marseille, they share a passion for all things French, a commitment to go the extra mile to reach French fluency, the desire to become part of the local community and to create lasting friendships in France, they come from top American universities and are often among the brightest in their class.
And while they share a lot, each one is unique. Today, we’d like you to meet AUCP Marseille student Jessica, pictured above with her Moroccan language correspondent during her recent study tour to Fez, Morocco. This is part of an on-going series on Le Blog designed to introduce you to current AUCP students, and to show you how, despite their many similarities, they each have their own unique way of living with and like the French at the AUCP.
My name is Jessica. I grew up in Hong Kong, and I’m 100% Chinese ! But I’ve studied in American schools since preschool, and today I go to Pomona College in Southern California. I’m studying French and Late Antique & Medieval Studies, and I want to continue my studies after undergrad to become a human rights lawyer.
Bonjour Jessica! For starters, how would you sum up your time studying abroad at the AUCP in Marseille so far?
I’ve so loved my experience here in Marseille. One of my favorite experiences so far has been rock climbing in the Calanques of Marseille – I LOVED that! We have lots of class, so sometimes it’s not easy to find the balance between school and life outside of class. But I’m starting to get the hang of it! And actually, I find French living much easier than in the States. I really like the fact that in France, culture is collective. France is, for me, the perfect balance between Chinese culture (very collective) and American culture (individual). I’m truly enjoying having this experience where family values are so important, respecting elders, a more theoretical approach in teaching.
Great! Can you tell us about your host family in Marseille?
My host family is phenomenal. I have four host siblings!! It’s an amazing experience having younger kids at the house, because in my family, I’m the youngest. They welcomed me at the airport with a huge sign, and since they knew that I was Chinese, they all wore “Chinese” hats…it was hilarious. I spend a lot of time with my host mom too; we’ve gone skiing, done rock climbing, and we go to the sea pretty often – even in the Winter!
Can you tell us a little bit about your French language partners?
My language partners are great. We go out a lot, have great conversations and talk a lot! We’ve become good friends and I really like that we’re able to talk about lots of different subjects. They’ve shown me around the city and we’ve visited the region a bit too, and funny enough, one of my language partners isn’t a typical Frenchman, he doesn’t like wine, or cheese!
What club or personal interest activity did you choose?
In Marseille, I go to church weekly, and participate in a bible study every two weeks at the local Protestant church. It’s a great and enriching experience for me, especially in French!
What are you doing for your community service in Marseille?
I help out in an association that helps immigrants navigate the justice system. I primarily help with French to English translation, but I also do administrative work and social work – most frequently for asylum requests for African and Afghan immigrants. Sometimes I help with tech/IT things too !
What is your favorite class so far at AUCP Marseille?
I really like the Linguistic Strategies class. We read « Nord Perdu,» by Nancy Huston. I wrote an essay on it that piqued the interest of the professor. We started talking about it, and we developed a research project on linguistic space, my multilingualism (French, English, Cantonese and Mandarin) and my multicultural identity. We hope to publish it together, so stay tuned !
And you just got back from the AUCP Marseille study tour in Fez, Morocco, right?
Yes! It was amazing. I had actually already been to Morocco; last Summer I went to Rabat to study French and Arabic. But this time in Fez was a fabulous experience, and completely different! The AUCP housed me with a traditional host family in the Fez medina. There were no bedrooms, just a common living area where everyone slept on canapés marocains, which I would describe as a sort of day bed, in between a couch and a bed. It wasn’t always easy, because I’m a real introvert and l value my alone time…and with them, I was never alone! But it was just an amazing experience overall, the family was just so warm and welcoming, and the food was fantastic!!