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CEA Paris International Business Student Rises to the French-language Challenge

 Novancia Business School Paris (foreground) & the Montparnasse skyscraper (background)

Mackenzie Luttinen is a Litterature, Language & Theory major in her Junior year at Augsburg College (MN). When selecting classes for her International Business program at CEA Paris Mackenzie made an atypical choice: enrolling in a French-language business elective at Novancia Business School in Paris where most CEA students take their business elective in English. Read Mackenzie's personal account below:

Before leaving the cultural comforts of the United States and the English language, I was convinced that taking a course in French amongst French students would be: fun, informative, and an unforgettable experience. When my plane landed in France, and I was surrounded by French language, I was afraid that my Média et Société course would be: terrifying, impossible, and incomprehensible. I regretted my decision starting from the first day of orientation until the first day of class, wondering why I thought I could handle such a big task. Tried as I did to get out of it, my on site CEA program directors told me to at least try the first class.

So I went on the first day, sat twirling my pen nervously in an auditorium filled with about 70 students, waiting to be steamrolled by the rapid-fire French. I need not have feared. As my professor pulled up a PowerPoint, she spoke clearly about how we could do presentations to help our grade at the end of the semester in groups of 2 to 4, but they were not necessary. I wrote down the date for the final exam and the main objectives of the course before realizing that I had understood everything she had said thus far! It was a small success but it boosted my confidence, and while there were definitely words that I did not understand, I could at least figure out how to spell them.

By the end of the class I felt great, I was so glad that the staff at CEA had coaxed me to go through with my decision to take a course in French. I ended up meeting two other students who were from Germany and we talked about housing, grouping up for a presentation, and exchanged information so that we could trade notes. I found out that they also had some minor issues with translation and vocabulary, so I didn’t feel so alone in the class.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a lot of work. After every class, I go over my notes, look at the highlighted words that I didn’t understand and look them up. Sometimes the spelling was so wrong that even Google couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say. But even in those cases, I always had my Advanced French professor and the CEA staff to help me figure out what was going on, like when I thought the professor was calling us "apples", when she was actually saying that we were confused.

After all of the stress early on in the program, I am so glad that I took this course. I learned a lot about French culture, history, and mass media. Also I improved my French listening skills tenfold. It is a lot of hard work to take a course in a foreign language, but it is worth it in the end. I made foreign connections and learned about media in a perspective that I had never considered before.



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