January marked the beginning of a new student exchange program between Francis Marion University and the University of Lower Normandy in Caen, France.
Rémi Binet and Christophe Collange, both 21, of Caen, France, arrived in Florence Jan. 9 to take classes at FMU. Both students are majoring in business.
Collange had positive things to say about the new exchange program. “I am proud to be one of the two first French students to come to Florence,” he said. “I have always wanted to visit the United States because of my passion for music. Now that I’m here, I’m pretty sure that I will enjoy my stay in this nice city.”
Binet noted some differences between life in France and his experiences thus far in the United States. “Everything here is bigger: roads, cars, food. Most importantly, Florence is a really pretty place to study. Its quiet, people are nice and the sun is already shining in January! Wonderful!”
The American participants, Courtney Peterson, 18, of Florence, and Alberto Morales, 20, of Columbia, left for France on Feb. 4, and will spend a few days in Paris before traveling to Caen, where they will enroll in French language classes.
Peterson, a freshman visual arts major at FMU, said going to France was her lifetime dream. “This excursion will not only benefit my French, but will also be a great chance to meet people from all over the world. I’m really excited about the next four months,” she said. “I know I will see many new places, try new cuisines, and see lots of cool fashion. My goal for this trip is to learn as much as possible so I can come back and share my knowledge with people who might not ever get to experience such a journey. Also, the trip to France will benefit my future career.”
Morales, a junior French and Spanish major at FMU, said he was “ecstatic” about the opportunity to travel to France. “I have been studying French forever and now I finally have my chance to put it to good use. I have always wanted to go to France because their culture is so different. Imagine being in a country that doesn’t have a Wal-Mart, where one has to depend on shopping in little specialized shops. I look forward to doing things a little differently than how we do them in Florence.”
FMU French professor Elizabeth Zahnd is the acting coordinator for the exchange. “There is no better way to learn a foreign language than to experience it firsthand through immersion in the target culture,” said Zahnd.
“I’m excited to send our students to Normandy, a region with a rich history and beautiful landscape. At the same time, it’s been a pleasure to introduce Christophe and Rémi to Southern culture and to students at FMU.”
In 2004, FMU president Fred Carter and Caen University president Nicole Le Querler signed a cooperative agreement providing for a student exchange program between the two institutions. According to the agreement, each year during the spring semester, two students from France will study at FMU, while two Francis Marion students will travel to France to take classes at the University of Lower Normandy. Participants pay the costs of tuition, housing and a meal plan at their home institution and receive the same services free of charge at the partner school.
“The FMU-France exchange reflects FMU’s commitment to providing our students with a broad educational experience,” said Carter. “I applaud the work of Dr. Zahnd and other faculty members who helped to bring about this wonderful opportunity for our students, and I look forward to welcoming the French students to Francis Marion University each year.”
For more information about the exchange program, contact Zahnd at 843-661-1600.
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