About Me: Part 1

About Me: Part 1

21 Juin 2024


Hello! My name is Jason, and I’m originally from the United States, in the Midwest region. One of the most common questions I receive when I meet someone new is “What brought you to France?”. Most of the time, the reply of “an airplane!” is not what people were looking for, so I elaborate and share my story. Growing up in the middle of nowhere in the center of the USA, originally having absolutely no connection to France and French culture, people are curious…why am I here in France?

Well, it all started back when I was in middle school. Our school had us follow a semester of French, followed by a semester of Spanish, and then the next year we had to pick one of the two languages to continue. I don’t know why, but of the two, French just “clicked” more. It was easier for me. And of course, when you’re in middle school, you always go with the easier option. Through the rest of middle school and into high school, I continued learning French. I was very lucky; I had teachers who were kind, patient, and most important of all, passionate about what they were teaching. During those four years of high school French I learned a lot, but the most important moment was a school trip to France in between my junior and senior years. After saving up my part-time job money (and with a bit of help from my parents), I was able to go on a month-long trip to France in 2007.

I know it’s cliche to say “it was a transformative experience!” but honestly? It was really a moment where I realized and understood that what I’d been learning for the past several years wasn’t just a subject in school. The little American Midwest bubble I grew up in had burst: not only was France finally a real place for me, but so was this language that millions of people in the country (and all over the world) spoke! Exposure to international travel and foreign cultures at this young age really helped me to start thinking about the rest of the world beyond my own country.

Thanks to this trip, I realized that I wanted to continue learning French and it became a life goal to achieve fluency. I decided to major in French at college, and also pursued my growing interest in French and European culture by also majoring in Art History. This pairing made sense to me as a double-major, and I found a lot of overlap in the two subjects which helped me succeed in both of them. During my college years I had an opportunity to study abroad for a semester. I decided to study in the city of Nantes. For me, Paris was too obvious a choice, and I knew that it would be too easy to slip into speaking in English if I lived there. Nantes was a lesser-known city and I knew it would be easier to experience more of the French language and culture while living there. During my 6 months in Nantes, I made new friends with both French and foreign students, and got to experience a true sense of daily living in France. It was fantastic. There was so much to see, to do, to discover! The museums, the art, the nightlife, the food! And most importantly, during this time, it became easier and more natural to understand and to speak French.

After my final year of college back in the US and upon graduating, I came to a realization. I had a degree in French and art history…what the hell was I going to be able to do with that in the middle of the US?? I realized that I wanted to return to France, and…well, stay there. But how would I be able to do that?

Well, as you’ve probably figured out, considering where you’re reading this, I did find a way to come back. And I’ll share with you my following experiences with coming back to France (and with CampusFrance!) in my next post.