An Interview with AMS student Joséphine Landais, of the University of Paris VII-Diderot

Joséphine Landais GR, American Studies Diploma program

Joséphine Landais GR, American Studies Diploma program

One of Joséphine’s favorite activities is watching and thinking about movies.

One of her favorite films is The Hunger Games. Originally attracted to the blockbuster movie, she then turned to the popular book series under the same title, by Suzanne Collins, and is now writing a thesis about the notions of fiction and reality in The Hunger Games.

Learning the English language has opened up new doors for Joséphine, whether she’s studying The Hunger Games or other works of literature, or just meeting new people.

“When you learn English, your perceptions change,” she notes. “Now, I can speak to almost everybody in the world since so many people with different cultures understand English. When I am watching [an American] movie now, I can truly understand it.”

Joséphine is enjoying her experience in Smith’s American Studies Diploma program, for the opportunities it affords to improve her English, delving into American culture and gaining new insights about it.

“Language is the medium by which you get in touch with other people,” says Joséphine. With language, people can understand one another and collaborate to find solutions to major problems.

Before coming to the United States, Joséphine had heard a variety of stereotypes regarding American culture and people. “Americans are brainwashed and always smiling and extravagant,” she says, one stereotype that particularly struck her. Also, the misconception that all American food is unhealthy and consists of “burgers and fries and milkshakes.

“People think I’ll become obese here,” she chuckles at her friends’ and family’s concerns, “but I think I’ll become slim and fit. I’m not used to being as athletic as I am now.”

She has undertaken new athletic activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and Zumba while at Smith, and she knows many other Smith students who use the athletic facilities on campus. While Joséphine never believed the stereotypes she grew up hearing, she actively disavows them now that she lives among Americans and embraces her new life as a Smith student.

As she discovers new activities and gains new friends here, her views of the world continue to change. She believes that with knowledge of another language she can become a global citizen, “caring about what happens in other countries, and feeling responsible if your own country doesn’t act to change or fix things like war and civil rights.”

For her, gaining knowledge about the world is a vital step toward the future.