A panel of UNH students spoke about their experiences going abroad on Thursday, Nov. 17 in Talk the Walk, an event put on by the UNH Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
Each of the student speakers gave a five minute speech to express what they have learned while abroad and how it has changed their lives.
Senior civil engineering major James Rochefort studied Japanese at UNH for a year before studying at Saitama University in Japan.
“Japanese at Saitama was taught entirely in Japanese,” Rochefort said, “which was a very different experience than at UNH.”
Rochefort said he found that this made him become more fluent in Japanese because it was a very effective way to improve students’ listening and speaking abilities since all questions had to be asked and answered in Japanese.
Rochefort said that there was a lot that an engineer could learn about traditional wooden buildings that forgo nails and only use wooden joints. He said he was also very interested in seeing how Japan dealt with its earthquake problems in construction.
Sophmore French and international affairs dual major Andrew Jablonski has been taking French courses since seventh grade and had the opportunity his senior year of high school to take two 600 level French courses.
Jablonski studied abroad in Berlin, Germany after finding a passion for the German language. He said he was a shy and a not-so-confident student, but after he found out he needed to become more spontaneous with a desire to travel the world, he decided that a study abroad program would be perfect for him.
“My first year of college wasn’t the easiest for me, with a new transition of living and friends, so living abroad for almost three months changed my life,” Jablonski said. “It gave me the confidence of feeling independent and figuring more things out on my own.”
With hopes of doing humanitarian work in French speaking Africa after graduating, Jablonski said it wouldn’t be possible without the confidence lift that his abroad program gave him.
Senior Spanish major Claire FitzMorris began studying Spanish in sixth grade and Arabic her sophomore year of college.
FitzMorris studied abroad in Spain. With her passion for studying Spanish and an opportunity to learn more about the Spanish culture, she was able to connect with locals, an experience that she said was heart-felt for her.
After studying abroad in Spain, she put her year of Arabic courses at UNH to the test when traveling to Morocco. FitzMorris said she wasn’t as comfortable with Arabic as she was Spanish, due to her lack of experience with the language.
However, she said the Arabic speaking people of Morocco were impressed that she was trying to learn their language, and made an effort to help her learn more rather than pushing her away.
“I learned how to effectively communicate fluently in a second and third language,” FitzMorris said. “So now, communicating in my first language comes much more easily to me.”
Each student in the panel encouraged all attendees to study abroad if they can, because according to them, such experiences and oppurtunities for expanding knowledge of language and culture is something that is only an once-in-a-lifetime chance.