January 2, 2004
Ever since 22-year-old Heather Frost began studying French in her Sacramento, California high school nearly a decade ago, she dreamed of some day traveling to France. Little did she think it would be a small university across the country, along the Canadian border in northern Maine that would make her dream become reality.
Frost, a 2003 graduate of the University of Maine at Fort Kent's four-year French program is working from her California home at landing her first professional job in a study abroad office somewhere in the U.S. In the meantime, she is working in her father's Sacramento law office and recalling fondly her past year of academic study in France.
To complete her bachelor of arts degree in French at UMFK, Frost opted to study for nine months at L'Université Catholique de l'Ouest in Angers, France.
During that time she lived with a host family in a suburb of the city and traveled widely throughout the country, including frequent trips to Paris, just an hour and a half drive from where she was living.
"My time in France was unforgettable," exclaimed Frost! "I think about my time in France and hope I can return soon. I was able to visit the "City of Lights" quite often, and also took advantage of being in Europe by traveling to England, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium. As much as I enjoyed traveling, I also enjoyed my classes. All of my classes were taught completely in French by French professors. I took language courses, as well as courses about French culture including art history and music history."
For Frost, in addition to being the experience of a lifetime, studying in France was a perfect extension of her three years on-campus enrolled in UMFK's French program and her time living in the St. John Valley.
During her time at Fort Kent, Frost was an exemplary student, who both received top grades and was greatly involved in the campus community, including the campus French Club.
"I really enjoyed my time at UMFK. The atmosphere was great and my classes were interesting. I learned a lot in my French classes, and came to really love French literature, which I continue to explore to this day," said Frost. "I feel prepared because my French courses at UMFK were intense. Every course was taught in French and the students were expected to communicate in French when participating in class. This prepared me well for my time abroad, where I was forced to speak in French all the time, in class and outside of class."
The Californian is also quick to note that her overall experience and three-year stint as a northern Mainer was invaluable. The lesson she learned extend far beyond the classes she took to satisfy her French program.
"It is not only my French courses that will help me in my future. Every course at UMFK helped me to become a more rounded person," said Frost. "As my minor was behavioral science, I also took many psychology, anthropology, and sociology courses. In this way, I understand more about the human being on a psychological level, as well as the impact of culture and society on the individual and vice versa. Moreover, the fact that I earned a liberal arts degree means that I studied math, science, and music, among other things, all of which have had an impact on my life. I feel that I can learn anything I put my mind to."
Another aspect of studying at UMFK that she quickly came to appreciate was the supportive environment of the local community.
"The St. John Valley is a great place to study the French language because most local people speak French and the university campus is just minutes from the border of French-speaking Canada," said Frost. "I love the St. John Valley. For me, it was the perfect place to study. It is a small community with an intimate feel. In this way, I could concentrate on my studies and not be distracted by the "big city". Also, the people are so nice. I remember the first day I arrived in Fort Kent. People were waving at my parents and me even though they did not know us! I knew right away that this was a friendly community and nice place to live."
Frost so enjoyed her experience at UMFK and in France that she hopes to someday assist college and university students like those in UMFK's French program to realize their dreams of studying in France.
After working for some time in a study abroad office in the U.S., she would like to work on-site in France as a study abroad advisor, working her way up to program coordinator, and someday as a program director.