The Global Stride program
allows to apply their stipends toward
study-abroad costs or intensive language programs. As part
of the Global Stride scholarship, the fellows interviewed
and profiled international students in the college’s
graduate program in American Studies, to help familiarize
them with people who have made cultural transitions.
The Gate is publishing
their profiles in an occasional series.
By Lisa Wu
'16, Global Stride Fellow
GR, American Studies Diploma program
For Louise Fudym, who is at
Smith this year as a student in the graduate American Studies
Certificate Program, it is not her first study-abroad experience.
Two years ago, Louise spent
a year in an immersion program at the University of Warwick
in the United Kingdom as a student in the Erasmus Program,
the European exchange program that allows students to achieve
the equivalence of a year of study in another country.
At first in the U.K., her first
time immersed in English, she found the language to be the
greatest obstacle. She chose English because of its importance
as a world language, but immersed in the language, she discovered
her love for it.
With mastery of the language
came a better understanding of the culture and she began
to develop friendships with local people. Very self-conscious
at first, she gradually gained self-confidence, which she
now brings with her to the Smith College.
Today, living in Northampton
and immersed in the culture of an American liberal arts campus,
Louise finds it easy to start up conversations with Americans.
Her successful experience learning English has made her eager
to pursue another language, Italian, this year at Smith.
Added to the years of German she took in secondary school,
Italian will be her fourth language.
Louise’s experiences living and studying abroad have made her aware of the importance
of learning other languages. “It’s something just to touch a language because
then you have a greater freedom to understand the world better,” she says, “and
as you gain more awareness of the world around you, you become a global citizen.”
It’s important to view the world with an open mind, she notes, and to see the
flaws in one’s own histories. “You make comparisons and you are able to be more
critical of your own country and background.”
Education in the United States
is an amazing experience, Louise says. She is especially
sensitive to the differences between her university in France,
Paris IV-La Sorbonne, and a liberal arts college like Smith.
“At Smith, there is a practical dimension in college education, [students are]
more inclined to speak up in class,” she describes. “In France, you sit and listen
to the teacher speak.”
Louise appreciates the rich,
involved student life at Smith, with its many organizations—a
rarity in France.
“We go to school, then we go home,” she says. “There isn’t much student interaction.”
There are no dormitories at
Paris IV, Louise notes, and she is enjoying the house community
that comes with Smith’s house-style residences. “Houses are a great
way to meet people,” she says. “One of my goals is to find close friends here.”
Louise’s offers a list of advice
for Smith students planning to study abroad:
- Try your best
to make new friends.
- Hang out with native speakers.
- Avoid staying with the same
group of international students;
- study abroad for a full
- read the local news in the
- and, most importantly,
practice the language a lot before leaving home. Read
the language, write the language, and speak the language.