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FMU establishes student exchange program with French university

     FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University has established a student exchange program with the University of Caen in Normandy, France.

     The first exchange is slated during the 2004-05 academic year, with FMU sending two students per semester to France. The University of Caen will send two students to Francis Marion per semester, or one student for a full academic year.

     FMU French professor Liz Zahnd, who has worked for years to establish such a program, is thrilled that it has finally come to fruition. “This is something FMU needs,” she said. “It is an opportunity not only for our students to improve their French, but to expand their horizons culturally.”

     Zahnd and four FMU students visited Caen for three weeks this summer, where the students earned six hours of foreign-language credit.

     FMU senior Aubrey Phillips described her stay in Caen as “simply amazing.” “The University of Caen was very welcoming with the exchange students and made our stay as comfortable as possible,” she said.

     “The city was absolutely gorgeous!” said senior Stephen Coates. “How often do you get to walk from your university to the market and pass by a real castle?”

     Zahnd said the ideal candidate for the exchange program is a junior or senior student with at least one year of college-level French, but sophomores will be considered. The University of Caen has a separate language school on campus for students from abroad. “They have all kinds of options for whatever your level is,” Zahnd said.

     Students who travel to Caen will live in the dorms on campus and pay regular FMU tuition and fees.

     Zahnd said several factors were considered in finding a suitable school for the exchange program: location, campus life, programs, housing, people and the city itself. “Caen fit all of the criteria,” she said.

     Despite the recent political disagreements between France and the United States concerning the situation in Iraq, Zahnd said, the French are very hospitable. “I think they were even more welcoming because of that. Most French these days go out of their way to be friendly and receptive to Americans.”

     France has a strong business connection with the Palmetto State. Forty-six French companies employ nearly 14,500 South Carolina workers, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce. In 2002, France invested $85 million in South Carolina, creating 147 new jobs. The state of South Carolina is second only to Hawaii in the percentage of its citizens who work for internationally owned companies, and exchange programs make FMU students more marketable to potential employers, Zahnd said.

     The French exchange program brings to eight the number of international exchange programs at FMU. The university also has programs with International University in Cuernavaca, Mexico; Christchurch College of Education in Christchurch, New Zealand; University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia; De Montfort University in Leicester, England; and Fachhochschule Schmalkalden, Fachhochschule Ludwigshafen, and University of Trier in Germany.

#32 / 9-17-03

Last Published: February 19, 2004 9:36 AM
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