My name is Mallie and I am an international student from Sierra Leone (West Africa). As a result of my parent's line of work, I have had the opportunity to live in many different countries in Africa, Europe and North America. I admire the emphasis St. Lawrence puts on international study and the need for cultural understanding. I had the grand opportunity to spend my junior year in Rouen where, although I was challenged on a daily basis, I had a phenomenal cultural and learning experience. The experience has helped me grow in a way I do not think I could have on campus at SLU. With more than 50% of students studying abroad at least once while at SLU, I would like to see even more students taking advantage of the international study opportunists available to them.
While abroad, I was really excited to "do it all and see it all"! However, I soon realized that 9 months was not going to be enough to experience all that France had to offer. With my days numbered, I did not have time to mope about! Instead, I aimed at making every opportunity count. My host family had the most significant impact on my experience in France. With the love and care the Salmans showed me, and with my adventurous attitude, I was quickly able to adapt to the "French way of life" Ensemble, we exercised, travelled and celebrated big events and little events. I came to truly consider myself as part of the Salman family, and not just as a guest in the house.
I believe that one way of getting to know a culture is getting involved in the community. I volunteered a couple of times at an associative canteen commonly known as FLVM- faites-le-vous-meme "Do it-yourself". FLVMs are an association of restaurants that offer delicious meals at very affordable prices. You can really learn a lot about a culture from what they eat! My time at FLVM helped me improve my language skills and familiarize myself with the politics and quotidian life of the members of the community. I met some of the most exciting people here; some of whom I am still in contact with.
My year abroad has helped me to be more reflective about my beliefs and choices, and more self-conscious and critical of my assumptions and motivations. Being a global citizen, more than ever, is becoming a critical skill for our generation. It is therefore no longer acceptable to be ignorant of cultures beyond our own experience.
As an extension of my interest and commitment in international study, I hope to use my position as a Peer Advisor in the CIIS Office to help promote SLU off-campus study opportunities. I look forward to meeting and sharing with you my experiences!