Lindsay McGonegle - 2014 Program Participant
Spontaneous weekend adventures to Barcelona
How did you decide study abroad was for you?
In 2009, my dad was transferred to Brisbane, Australia for a year. My experience in a new culture created an “itch” I can’t get rid of. From that point forward, I knew no matter where I went to college, I wanted to have the opportunity to study abroad.
Why did you choose such a unique study abroad destination in France?
I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I wasn't sure where. I knew I was limited by my ability of speaking another language, so after flipping through a couple catalogs, I made a list of places, dates, excursions, costs, things to do, classes, ability to travel, and so on. Everything about the program in Lille just seemed to align with what I was looking for in a program, but I still did not know much about the country, or anything about the city.
Going into this opportunity with an open mind was the best position I could be in. I had nothing but everything to learn, and had no expectations, which made it the best five weeks of my life. Lille is known as the crossroad to Europe, as we had the ability to hop on a train or plane and go to another destination for a weekend. I was able to travel to Brussels, Bruges, London, and Barcelona, all while I was there.
What was your favorite part about Lille?
The reason why I loved being in Lille is because I felt as if I had a more intimate connection to France, the French people, and the French culture. I was not fighting through tourists on a daily basis, and was only spoken to in English, when I said I did not understand French. I believe I had more of an opportunity to disconnect from home and connect with the French. The people of Lille defied all French stereotypes and were warm and welcoming from the first night we met them. I created a home in Lille, and would feel comfortable going back at anytime to visit.
In what ways did the local ISA staff support you throughout your program?
ISA had a resident director on sight three days a week, and always on call. She was not there to babysit us, but instead assist us with anything we need while we were there. Pauline offered to tutor us in French, take us for chocolate, or help us make accommodations when we were planning to travel on the weekends.
What is your biggest regret?
Since I did not know anyone who was going to Lille while I was there, I booked a flight home for the day we were suppose to leave. I wish I would have extended my trip, as many people I met were continuing their travels after our classes ended. I did not realize I would meet lifelong friends so quickly, that I would have felt completely comfortable traveling with, but I was sure wrong.
What was a typical day like for you in Lille?
Monday to Friday we were expected to be in French class by 9 a.m. We would usually leave around 8:30 a.m. to catch the bus from our rooms to school. The bus ride took 15 to 20 minutes, but we liked to have extra time as the French don't always run on schedule. French class lasted from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., then we had a break for lunch. I usually made a stop at the bakery just down the street for a fresh made chocolate chip cookie. Three days a week we had our elective from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I chose to take European Business Management.
After class we would catch the bus home, shop, get ice cream, or head to the park as we wanted to take advantage of the weather. Around 8 p.m. or so we would make dinner in our apartments, head down to the lounge area, and get ready to head out for the night. French culture does not go out until 11 p.m. at the earliest.