French department’s new study abroad program

Molly Wierman, News Editor

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Dr. Jason Lewallen’s love for studying abroad has inspired him to work with colleague Irina Rodriguez to offer students the opportunity for more international experiences. Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

The University of Dallas French Department will be offering a new study abroad program beginning in June 2016 at the Catholic University of Lyon.

The program, a joint effort between French professors Dr. Jason Lewallen and Irina Rodriguez, will take place from June 2 to 28. The total cost will be $2,500, excluding airfare but including six hours of French language credit.

Students will stay with host families during the program.

The application deadline is Jan. 9, but Rodriguez and Lewallen said students do not have to make the final decision to go to Lyon when they apply, nor do they have to submit the enrollment deposit with the application.

“They’ll hear from us by mid-January,” Rodriguez said. “They can make the decision after.”

Interested students are encouraged to contact either Lewallen or Rodriguez for more information. Rodriguez said that the value of study abroad programs motivated her to create one for the French department.

“I just love study abroad,” Rodriguez said. “It’s beneficial for students in any major to have international experiences and learn about the world. It was the most wonderful experience of my life — it opened doors and [created] friendships.”

Lewallen added that the department needed a study abroad program because immersion is an invaluable language-learning tool. He said that when he started teaching at the university last fall, he hoped to have a study abroad program in place within a few years, but he and Rodriguez were able to work together to create one even sooner.

“We started contacting … most of the Catholic universities in France,” Rodriguez said. “[The Catholic University of Lyon] seemed to be very interested in UD.”

Lewallen said that although he and Rodriguez were sad to turn down some of the other universities, the Catholic University of Lyon was the best fit for UD.

“The size … and the atmosphere seems to just fit our needs,” Lewallen said. “They were the most friendly and hospitable.”

He said that Lyon, with its rich history and vibrant Catholic community, would be a good fit for the program.

“It’s France’s ‘second city,’” Lewallen said. “It’s a bit like France’s Chicago … and it’s France’s culinary capital. It’s a bit more bourgeois than Paris.”

Both Lewallen and Rodriguez noted that Lyon has fewer tourists and fewer English speakers, giving students more opportunities to practice French.

They also hope students will choose to take advantage of the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture.

“I hope students will make friendships with French people, [increase] language proficiency, and have a truly immersive experience by finding common ground with different people,” Lewallen said. “This is how I learned French, too. You get motivation to use your language lessons on a daily basis.”

He emphasized that the program is open to all students who have had at least one year of French.

“We want to attract those completing their language requirements,” Lewallen said.

Rodriguez said that she hopes students of all majors will find something significant in their study abroad experiences.

“I hope they discover all the benefits and will be as excited as I was as a student,” Rodriguez said. “I hope we’ll have more French majors and concentrations, too.”

Lewallen expects 10 students will choose to study in Lyon this summer, with five as a conservative estimate and 20 as a high goal.

Junior Gioya Lorenzana, who is working toward a concentration in French, said that she hopes to participate in the program.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for French students, and I’m really excited for it,” Lorenzana said. “I haven’t been to Lyon, but it’s only two hours from Paris and the Mediterranean.”

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