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Students Study Language, History, Art and Culture in Paris

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JULY 12, 2012 – Twenty-four students from The University of Texas at Brownville and Texas Southmost College began their three weeks of summer study abroad in France on Saturday, July 7.

UTB Students Study Abroad Visited Notre Dame Cathedral on July 10 The study abroad group visited Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday, July 10.

The group is travelling with Dr. Suzanne LaLonde, Assistant Professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and the architect of the study abroad program for France. LaLonde is being assisted by Michael Dameron, who received his Master of Science in mathematics from UTB in May of this year.

Academic day one for the group included a visit to Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower, where some of the hardier students completed the vertical climb to the top.

“Wow, after climbing the 600-plus stairs up the Eiffel Tower, our feet are extremely sore, but it was worth every bit of the effort – the view was incredible,” said Brissa Elorza, a May 2012 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biology.Dr. LaLonde had given us a history of the tower, which made the trip much more significant. We got to see it not only as a world renowned building to take pictures with, but more than that, we learned it represented a revolutionary movement in architecture, technology and even as a democratic symbol – it was amazing.”

LaLonde said she strives to perfect the France study abroad program each year.

“This study abroad experience is designed to promote critical and creative thinking,” LaLonde said. “The program should help students to perfect their communication skills in French and to become globally engaged citizens.

Aside from taking French classes, students prepared for their trip by reading up on the places they would be visiting, identifying sites on googlemaps.com, and familiarizing themselves with the Paris Metro subway system.

A typical day consists of French language study from 9-11 a.m. followed by a one-hour lecture on French history and culture that focuses on that day’s activities. The rest of the afternoon is spent visiting those sites.

Students are also reading a compilation of essays on the cultural, artistic, architectural and philosophical aspects of the sites visited. They are required to write responses to LaLonde’s questions, sharing their compositions and photos via individual blogs or their own webpages.

While in Paris, the group resides in an international student dormitory, Le Foyer du 44 rue du Cherche-Midi, run by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Joseph.

“It is a superb location in the heart of the Luxembourg Quarter (6th Arrondisement),” LaLonde said. “Metro stations are all around, and we are about a 10-minute walk to Notre Dame Cathedral.”

Different than in years past, the itinerary also includes one week spent in the city of Blois, southwest of Paris, along the lower Loire River. In the center of the city is the Château de Blois, a Renaissance castle once occupied by King Louis XII.

Students will bicycle every day while in Blois, covering about 15 kilometers a day. LaLonde required the students to pass a bicycle riding test in Brownsville to make sure everyone was able to ride competently.

In Blois, the group will reside in the Résidence Universitaire St. Louis. LaLonde said living in student dorms as opposed to hotels has more than an economical advantage.

“This is part of the learning experience,” LaLonde said. “Students will meet not only local people at food markets or cafés, but also other international students, their peers from around the globe. This will add to all they are learning through classroom lectures, books, websites and cultural sites.”

For more information on study abroad programs, contact the Office of Global Engagement at 956-882-7690 or global.engagement@utb.edu.

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