Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone & Enjoying the Journey

Academics: 10
Support: 10
Fun: 10
Housing: 10
Safety: 10

I participated in the Paris Program of IFE and I can say that it definitely changed my life (I know it may sound cliché, but it's true)! I was a second-semester junior when I studied abroad and my level of French was not at the place where I could confidently strike up a conversation with anyone. I remember my first few days in Paris, before the program began, feeling completely lost and suffering immense culture shock that I didn't expect as I already knew another language. However, the IFE team always were/still is a safe haven for all their students, former and current.

When you come into the program, every thing you do is sort of up to you and what I mean by that is, you shape the way your experience will go. IFE will help, but you have to make the effort to be open with them. I know for me, I dealt with a heavy workload in juggling the classes along with my internship as I was involved in a demanding industry. It was stressful and I remember confronting those challenges on my own, but when I knew I needed more advice and help I went to Thomas and Julie. They were so kind and gave me so much support in navigating the balance between the classes and the internship. I could always message them and they would check-in with me, and it made such a great difference knowing that I had people I could go to when I felt conflicted or overwhelmed.

I would say one of the most memorable moments for me, beyond the internship and being able to make friendships that I cherish, was during one of our classes where we were preparing for our internships. Julie drew a diagram about our comfort zones, and how we would be having to push ourselves outside of the zones where everything is safe and familiar, to the third and fourth zone because that is where true growth and enjoyment will be experienced. It stuck with me because I had never done something like what the program offers of being independent and immersing yourself into a city and its language. IFE's classes do a great job in prepping you with knowledge on the politics, history, and culture of the country to be to gradually integrate yourself into the area. Outside of the classes and internship, you have so many opportunities to become part of the community. You can meet so many amazing folks from your housing choice, the activities planned by IFE, traveling around the city, going to local events or doing activities in Paris, eating at random little spots by yourself, and much more. I took this lesson with me as I pushed myself to speak in French when I was out and about. However, it taught me a lot about myself and I got to have some memorable experiences and growth out of those moments.

The experience I had with IFE and specifically, the Paris program is something I will always have high praises for because it made me realize more about myself through the classes, activities, internship, and friends I made through it all. I grew in ways I never expected, I became more vocal about my ideas and opinions (which was quite the shocker to all of us), confident, independent, resilient, and empathetic! It is a wild ride and it isn't always easy, but if you want an experience of getting integrated with your community and city, and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone then, IFE is one of the best programs to choose. The IFE team is one of the most compassionate, knowledgable, and open-minded group of people you will meet.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed