Alumni Spotlight: Stacey Latimer

Taken in Annecy, France

Why did you decide to study abroad with AIFS at the University of Grenoble?

Stacey: When I initially decided that I was going to study abroad, I really didn't know which program to choose or even where exactly in France I wanted to go. I looked through several catalogs and brochures trying to figure out which program to use. I initially chose Grenoble because I liked the idea of doing the intensive French program; I also liked the details I read about the program such as the school, the host family situation, the mountains, and so on. I felt that I would be able to really see a side of French culture that I felt would be harder to discover in a larger city such as Paris. I felt that studying in Grenoble would give me the abilities I needed to be able to accomplish the challenge of learning French and discovering the French culture.

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

Stacey: It would be hard to narrow down just one thing that made it unique and special because there were several aspects that made it unique to me. For example, my host family contributed a lot to my experience in the fact that they showed me what everyday life was like and helped me be able to speak French.

Going to the university taught me not only how to pronounce French, understand French, and better understand the grammar, it taught me a lot about cultural perspective and a different view on education. I was in classes with people from all over the world and everyone had a different opinion about the topics we discussed in class.

One of the best things that made it unique was that I was able to be an explorer. I loved the mountains and I loved the city of Grenoble. I especially liked that although there were people there to help me, I was still free to discover the town and the culture in my own way and use the skills I was learning in class.

A view of the skyline in Grenoble, France from La Bastille

How has this experience impacted your future?

Stacey: I'm currently a graduate student working on my M.A. in French., Thus, my experience abroad had a resounding effect on my academics. It was during my time in Grenoble that the language comprehension finally just clicked one day. Yes, I still struggled to speak, but I could understand most of what was being said to me. It was an amazing achievement to reach the level of French to be able to express what I thought, to debate with my French professor, as well as to relate to others and communicate with them.

Personally, I gained confidence in my abilities to be able to work through a problem and go into an unfamiliar situation and figure out how to accomplish my goals. My time in Grenoble completely changed my view of the world and make me realize how vague and generalized many of the stereotypes between cultures are. As I have entered the professional world, I have kept this idea of plurality of identities and perspectives in mind. When I have interviewed for a job or an internship, I have always brought up that I spent three months abroad and came back stronger. I feel that I would not have been able to claim this if I had not had the experiences and growth that I had in Grenoble, France.

Want to read more about Stacey's trip to Grenoble? Then check out her blog: A Journey Abroad: Adventures of a study abroad student in France!