Meet Sophie Naradzay

Program and Location:

French Language and Culture in Lille, Paris & Normandy; Lille, France

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I wanted to experience the French language and culture first-hand. It has always been my dream to travel to France, see the Eiffel tower, eat a croissant at a cafe, and studying abroad in France was the perfect opportunity for me to do so.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I am more capable and strong-willed that I thought I was. There were many times where I experienced culture shock, I got lost several times and had to find my way back to wherever, and I had to adjust to being in a completely different environment in a foreign country. I was surprised that I was able to keep a level-head in those stressful situations, and had good communication skills as well as creative critical thinking.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

My favorite part was when, before we had gotten to Lille, our group was at Honfleur and we had all gotten our respective drinks and were listening to music next to the canal, just talking about what the next few weeks would be like, what our school lives were like, since none of us had met each other before the trip. The setting and just the feeling of camaraderie made everything feel surreal and relaxed. We had all been getting to know each other for the past few days, but that night was a really good bonding moment, for me personally, and I think for everyone else as well.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, seriously. No matter how long your study abroad is, make it the most craziest, adventurous, deep, personal, enlightening experience ever. The people you are with may become your close friends for life, or they may become people that you are glad to meet and share the moments with; but stepping out of your comfort zone will show you how awesome you are as a person, and how awesome life is when you let go of little fears and the comfort of your norms. To fully experience everything and have no regrets, stepping out of your comfort zone and tossing it away is soooo important.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

Practicing good social skills, strong communication, and being flexible in stressful situations has definitely helped prepare me for my future in dealing with a diverse group of people in different business settings.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

The culture shock is real, it comes in different forms and you may not realize you are experiencing any shock until after the fact. The language and the nuances in the culture were to be expected, but homesickness, acclimating to new people who you are around 24/7, and finding a new routine was certainly challenging, especially knowing it was for a short period of 5 weeks.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional

classroom?

The classes were 3 hours long each, so that was a surprise. I enjoyed my museums between Paris and Brussels class, we took trips to architectural visits around Lille and the surrounding towns, as well as we went to the Louvre-Lens, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, and LaM. Also, we took group trips to Bruges, Ypres, and Brussels, and there were optional trips to Normandy, Dunkirk, and Paris.

Would you do it again?

Yes, I would hella do it again, I would do it 10x over, yes.

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.