One of the few disadvantages that I saw myself potentially facing as a Juniata student was a lack of immersion with the French language and culture that I had come to love. As diverse as the Juniata student body was for its size, I did not expect to have much of a chance to experience the Francophone way of life, or meet French students, simply because of the location.
However, I have been proven 100% wrong.
A somewhat new initiative on campus, Juniata’s Global Village now offers language-specific housing for anyone hoping to kick their fluency level up a few notches and live with international roommates from areas of the world where the language is spoken. The Global Village is made up of two different entities:
1) The Intercultural Floor- Currently located in our dorm Terrace, the Intercultural Floor houses students who wish to experience living in a non-location-specific international community. I lived here during my freshman year and met people from all around the world. My roommate from that year is Jamaican, but I also got to know people from France, Nigeria, Japan, and Bulgaria, for example.
2) Language-Specific Houses- These ‘living and learning’ communities are set in campus-owned houses. We currently have a Spanish House (La Casa Hispánica), French House (Le Village Français), and the German House (Haus Wanderlust). I currently live in Le Village Français as the Event Program Coordinator, and choosing to apply to the house is the best decision I think I have made during my time here.
I could go on for hours and hours about how much I’ve loved living in Le Village Français and what I’ve learned from my housemates, but I will try to be somewhat concise. French student life, social patterns, cooking, and travel are only a few of the subjects that I’ve been able to hear so much of from students who have lived their whole lives in France. I have had the chance to become particularly close friends with 4 French students who all go to school in Lille. If you’ve read my profile, you know that I will be spending my next academic year in Lille, France. This means that when I arrive at the airport to start my whole year abroad, most likely exhausted and scared out of my mind, there will be friendly faces waiting for me as soon as I walk off of the plane. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate knowing that these people will be there to help me get on my feet. I have also gotten to know 3 of my housemates who are going to Lille with me next year, and they are the most wonderful people I could hope to set off on this experience with. To me, the friends that I have made because of living in this French House are invaluable, and I would not have gotten to know them if I had not lived in the Global Village.
If you take one thing from this, let it be that you will not be disappointed if you are willing to open your mind and heart to the international students that reside within the Juniata community. If you love a language, live with students who will speak it with you. I have made lifelong friends from all over the world during these past two years. And no matter what part of the world that they are from, these friends always inspire me to be my best, see the world, and make the most of this Earth we have been given.
(Which literally means “until we meet again.” Those French romantics!)