• My very first weekend abroad, I attended a dinner party with my host family to celebrate the New Year. It was everything I had imagined a French dinner party to be — multiple courses, an assortment of cheeses, flutes of champagne, and slices of fresh bread. Then, at the end of the meal, the host called out: "Okay, everyone get under the table!" What? I watched as the children came running into the dining room and hid underneath the table. As it turns out, the days after the New Year are when the French celebrate with galette des rois, a special cake with its own set of... Read More
  • Happy spring! It's been so great to see sunshine, cherry blossoms, and farmers markets up and running around Montpellier. As the weather warms up, the students here are heading to outdoor cafes after class and planning hikes and beach trips on the weekends. It's nice to enjoy the weather, but now more than ever I'm trying to stay organized as my schedule starts to fill up.  We're more than halfway through the semester now, which means it's time to start picking classes for next semester and thinking about final papers and projects. The best part of spring always seems to... Read More
  • Studying abroad has definitely challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone. After two and a half years at UMass, I know the important things, like what to expect from classes, how to print at the library, and where to find (almost) everything on our huge campus. Now I'm learning how everything works at the French univeristy, and there have definitely been some ups and downs as I adapt. My history class really intimidated me at first, because I'm one of only two Americans in a class full of French students. The professor talks really fast and without using... Read More
  • This week, I'm back in class again after three whole weeks of time off. (Vive la France!) During the break, I met up with one of my best friends from UMass who's studying abroad in Seville, Spain. After touring Seville together, we visited Rome, then Malta (thanks for the suggestion, Marie!) and then Marseille, France. It was truly the opportunity of a lifetime, filled with plenty of sightseeing and more slices of pizza than I'd like to admit. But then, on our second-to-last day of traveling, something strange happened. As my friend and I sat down for dinner at a couscous... Read More
  • Bonjour! This semester, I'm studying abroad in Montpellier, France. I've loved having the chance to practice my French and experience life at a university in another part of the world. It's been a big adjustment moving from UMass, but I'm figuring out how to navigate my new school, how to get by with my French skills, and how to make perfect crepes (the key is letting the batter rest overnight!) There's so much planning, paperwork, and decisions to be made before going abroad. Now that I'm settling into my semester, I thought I'd share three tips for a smooth transition... Read More
  • Kate, It’s my last day of undergraduate classes and I’m just as terrified as I was on the first one. I guess that while a whole lot of things have changed, not everything has. A little over four years ago I didn't want to go to UMass at all. It was too big and rural and full of concrete. I look back at high school me and shake my head at the girl who thought she knew exactly what she wanted. Coming to UMass and being a part of CHC has been the best decision I’ve made thus far. I truly believe this school has helped me to become a better person. I think UMass has that... Read More
  • Back in September, my roommates and I made a Google Docs list of places we wanted to go, things we wanted to do, and (of course) food we wanted to eat before the end of the semester. With two years at UMass already gone by, we know that the time flies, and with all that's going on, you have to be intentional if you want to make the most of your weekends. We've managed to check a number of things off our bucket list, like going to a fall festival, checking out the Montague Book Mill, hosting a Clue-themed dinner party, and finding a really good burger, but there's still so... Read More
  • Kate, Now that it really feels like fall out, I can’t help but think back to where I was a year ago. I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss Cork and studying abroad. It was such an amazing experience and I am really excited for you to get a taste of it this summer while studying in Spain. I’m also really excited to go visit you. I heard you ran into Dan at the International Programs Office? That boy knows the ins and outs of studying abroad with UMass (he spent a year in Paris and a summer at Oxford)—take every bit of his advice. Unfortunately, your (our) next... Read More
  • One of the things that my father has drilled into my head is that life is pretty bland without two things: Curiosity and bravery. Of course, he doesn’t say it that way for fear of sounding corny like me, but that’s the gist of it. However, he always seems to emphasize the curiosity, whether he realizes it or not. He’s even ended one of his letters with “Be well.  Be interested.  Be open to wonder.  Be wildered.” Quirkiness aside, he’s made it clear to me that without curiosity and the willingness to be confused and work through it, a person cannot learn. They cannot... Read More
  • We’ll, we’re back! To those returning, I’m glad to be seeing familiar faces all about and catching up with you. To those just joining us, welcome to UMass! I hope that you’re enjoying the warmth and getting ready for the cold. Summer ends quick and, in the Stark words, Winter is Coming. Forget about that though! You’re at college! You’ve spent the first week acquainting (or reacquainting) yourselves with the campus, discovering your new teachers and classmates, and perhaps partaking in the debauchery and general fun that strikes at the beginning of every semester. At... Read More

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