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Being an English Major in the French Riviera

February 20, 2019
by Hannah Rohaley

Experiencing the study abroad program in the French Riviera through the lens of an English major has been exciting. On the one hand, living in Côte d’Azur makes my heart full knowing that the expatriates from the 1920s walked the same streets and enjoyed the same sunsets as I am now. On the other hand, taking a writing class where I am one of the only people where English is my first language has presented me with situations that I never thought I would encounter. 

Views from the French Riviera 

At Skema Business School, I am enrolled in a class called Business and Professional Writing. Another CEA student and I are the only ones who natively speak English, which I felt put me at an uncomfortable advantage; all of the other students are challenged with writing business letters, professional emails, and reports while translating from French on top of using correct grammar and tone. I feel both envious of their fluency in a second language and guilty that my English curriculum and past internship experience has prepared me for the class.

Studying in my room 

My class hasn’t been a cakewalk, though. Since my professor is British, I’ve come to realize through my feedback that, although we speak the same language, British grammar and tone aren’t the same as how I learned them in the United States. Americans tend to use a more casual tone than everyone else in the world.

Coffee at Paul before school 

Another interesting encounter was finding out not all words and phrases translate from English to French. Just last week, I was working on a group project where we had to write an 800-word business report. One of my partners told me that my word choice was confusing in the section I wrote and that she had fixed it. I was confused because when I went back to look at what I originally wrote, it looked fine to me. That's when I remembered my French teacher telling us that there are about 70,000 English words that are almost incomprehensible when translating to French.

Attending an international school in France has definitely altered the way I consider my word choice and has given me a global perspective on the English language.

Me, at a coffee shop 

Hannah Rohaley is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in French Riviera, France, and is currently studying at Clemson University.
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