A French connection

Arms aloft Jordan Ward (right) recently participated in a study abroad program with the American Institute for Foreign Study. The Washburn senior visited a variety of sites in France, including the Eiffel Tower.

A Washburn student’s only regret when studying in Paris this summer was that she did not have more time. Jordan Ward, senior in music, studied abroad for five weeks during the summer.

Ward chose to study abroad with the American Institute for Foreign Study because she liked that their program was focused on French culture.

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad,” said Ward. “I’ve always wanted to learn a different language. It’s really amazing how fast you learn a language when you are totally immersed in a culture.”

During her trip, Ward visited Normandy and other World War II sights and memorials. She also visited Mont Saint-Michel tidal island and the Saint-Michel monastery. She spent a weekend visiting castles and another weekend in London.

Ward traveled with 71 students from all across the United States, including two from Kansas.

“It was a culture shock just getting to know the others from the United States,” said Ward. You don’t realize how different the U.S. is. I got to meet lots of amazing people and make new friends. It was amazing how well we jelled.”

Another memorable moment for Ward was the chance to visit Frederic Chopin’s grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

“I only had an hour and a half to visit the cemetery and it has over 100,000 graves, said Ward.” I didn’t realize how big it was and I was running around trying to find Chopin’s grave. It was beautiful, all white and I wanted to hug it.”

Ward took several classes in Paris including an art history class, a conversation class, a grammar class and a wine appreciation class. All of her classes were taught in French. During her art history class, they visited many famous sights and she even had one class in front of Notre Dame. 

“My advice to someone that is going to study abroad would be to get over the fact that you are going to sound like an idiot at first,” said Ward. “But you will get better.”

Ward and some of her fellow classmates befriended a server at a restaurant they frequented. The server was trying to work on his English so they all benefited from the friendship. Ward said she learned a lot about their new friend and the experience helped he understand his culture. It also showed her the differences between the French and U.S. cultures.

“One guy told me that the American accent was cute,” said Ward. “Another told me that when we start a sentence we start really slow then we speed up. It’s crazy that we don’t think about it, but we do do that”

Another favorite memory for Ward was when she visited the Eiffel Tower during La Fête Nationale, France’s independence day.

“They lit fireworks behind the Eiffel Tower and there was a concert and everyone was singing,” said Ward. 

More than one million people attended this celebration and the metros were shut down. Ward was surprised by the calm the people displayed as they walked home after the celebration.

“Nobody was pushing or shoving,” said Ward. They are so laid back. I wasn’t expecting that in such a large city,” said Ward. “Everywhere they go, they don’t move quickly.”

Ward said she benefitted a lot from traveling abroad and she now has friends all over the U.S. and the world.

“I think everyone should study abroad,” said Ward. “Now is the time. You may never get a chance to do that again. It really is an eye opening experience to learn about other cultures. It is the most magical experience. I would give anything to go back.”