At the beginning of my university career I never thought that in only my second year I would already make the decision to take a year off to do a French immersion course and study French in France for almost ten months. Now, speaking to anyone who wonders if taking a year off is right for them to learn French, or do a French immersion language stay here in Montpellier, I always say that it was one of the best decisions I have made. Learning French, living in France and going ILA has been an experience of a life time, and here is why.
I was so hesitant about taking a gap year to study another language in another country, because first of all I did not speak much French, second Canada and French are very different countries, and lastly, I was going alone. Over all though, I do not regret any choice I made to get to the point I am now. This year has been amazing, being in a different country and learning a different language with people who are also from all over the world teaches you way more than just the French language. I realized recently how much I have actually grown from this experience, you learn so much about yourself and what your goals are because you are constantly being shown different opinions and perspectives that you may have never thought of before.
What I loved about this experience was that it was a learning experience I wanted to do, it was all my own choice, unlike high school or university where you may be forced to take some subjects you are not particularly interested in. If you choose to do a language stay it is usually because you want to, and are excited to learn a new language. This gave me such a push to really see my limits, and see how much I can learn in the time I have here. Leaning a new language and seeing the results how you progress, like me, going from little to no French abilities at all, to now being able to have a full formal conversation is so fulfilling. It is so rewarding to see what you can do when you are surrounded by such a supportive and encouraging learning environment like at ILA, truly I have the school to thank for how successful my gap year here in Montpellier has been.
For me the connections I made here were some of the best things about my year abroad. Staying in the same place with the same people in your home country, you don’t realize how habitual it becomes to see and think the same ways all the time. Once you step out of the familiar comfort zone and experience all these different cultures I promise you that you will fall in love with learning more. You will make so many friends and meet so many different people here, with memories that will be hard to forget. I know since I have been here I have met some really close friends that I will do my best to stay in contact to, I feel it is very enlightening to have friends from all around the world.
This year abroad learning French in Montpellier can provide you will so much knowledge for your potential career you want or even in continuing your studies. Staying in Montpellier for a French immersion language course will teach you just as much about yourself as it does another language. I feel since I have been living here, starting in summer French courses, staying in a host family and student residence then ending with a B2 certificate for French; I really have gotten all I could out of this year and gained so much more than I could have hoped for. Trust me when I say, I think everyone should take some sort of gap year in their life to focus on themselves and to learn something new like a language.