Alumni Spotlight: Lizzy Hardwick

Lizzy Hardwick is a third-year student who studied abroad with IES Abroad in Nantes, France. Her voyage began in late August of 2013, when she boarded a plane from her home state of Colorado to experience France in person. As a student at Southern Methodist University, Lizzy spends her time assisting with English as a Foreign Language courses and serving as Vice President of her French Club.

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What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Lizzy: When I considered studying abroad, I think I was in the same situation a lot of French majors are in: It’s almost a given that you’re going to Paris. I would challenge you, as a future student of the world, to be willing to look outside the box.

You have the choice to go anywhere in the world. Why take the same path everyone else has? Part of what I love about my abroad experience is getting to tell people something new about France, a country everyone thinks they know everything about. Did you know that Nantes is in the region that invented the crêpe? There is something very French about living in a place that every French person has heard of, but visitors tend to overlook.

Describe your program socially and academically.

Lizzy: I would say that the program’s main asset was its sense of community. Because we all attended classes in the same apartment building, we spent a lot of time together. We made all our lunches together in a shared kitchen, and studied in the library and computer lab for most of the day.

In the evenings, it was easy to transition into going out for dinner or to have a drink in a local bar. Host families are also a strong part of the IES Nantes community. Many of the families stay on for years, and Americans become their passion and their hobby.

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Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

Lizzy: When I first came to France, I felt a little concerned about my ability to speak French. I had studied for years, so I had forgotten many of the everyday words that you learn in introductory courses. I was much better suited for writing essays than talking to my 8-year-old host sister.

With time, my vocabulary expanded more than it ever could have in the US. Don’t expect to leave a country confident and fluent though! More than anything, I realized how much more there is to learn and became a more serious student.