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Student spends summer exploring France, learning the language

As part of the Study Abroad program, Frost School of Music student Nicole Perez soaked up the Parisian experience by living in the city and visiting towns where she would practice her French with locals.
Frost School of Music student Nicole Perez in Paris.
Nicole Perez, a senior majoring in music scoring at the Frost School of Music, spent her summer studying abroad at the American University of Paris. Photo courtesy Nicole Perez

University of Miami senior Nicole Perez spent the first two months of her summer studying in Paris, France, at the American University of Paris (AUP) where she brushed up on her language skills and got a chance to explore cities and towns outside of the major metropolis.

Perez, a Miami native and music scoring major at the Frost School of Music, also got a chance to check out the music scene in the city of light. 

She addresses her study-abroad experience in the following question-and-answer interview.

What attracted you to this program?

I’d been to Paris before but didn’t get to stay for very long. It is such a beautiful city with so many things to offer. So, I thought it would be a great place to study.

Where did you live?

Paris is split into districts called arrondissements, and they are numbered from 1 to 20. I lived in the 16th arrondissement in a studio apartment. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look for an apartment because I utilized the housing offered through American University of Paris, which was an off-campus apartment building. Each student had their own studio.

What were you studying, and why did you choose these classes?

While in Paris, I took two French classes that I could apply to a cognate at the University of Miami. The French classes I took were very intensive; they were four hours a day Monday through Friday, and my professors only spoke in French. They were also very immersive. My classmates and I learned not only the language, but about French culture as well. Our program had excursions to different Parisian suburbs like Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Nogent-sur-Marne, Rueil-Malmaison, and Fontainebleau, where we would practice our French with locals and explore the cities together.

What things surprised you about living in France?

I was pleasantly surprised with how efficient the public transportation was. The metro was a great way to get around the city. I was also surprised with how peaceful Paris can be. There were a lot of beautiful parks that are so quiet and relaxing that it made me forget I was even living in a big city. 

Did you know the language beforehand? Or did you learn some while there?

About six months before I went to Paris, I started learning French on the software application, Duolingo. I speak Spanish, and that helped me pick it up very quickly, but my French classes in Paris really made a difference. I noticed a big change in my ability to speak French by the end of my study abroad experience. I was able to order food at restaurants, speak with locals, and ask for directions with ease. I was not able to do these things very well when I first arrived.

What was your favorite experience?

I don’t think I’d be able to choose just one! I met so many amazing people from all over the world that changed my perspective on many different aspects of life. Meeting these people and learning about their cultures and life experiences inspired me. This experience also gave me the opportunity to get to know myself better. I have learned about the importance of living outside of my comfort zone, and I also had a great time drinking hot chocolate at Les Deux Magots, attending concerts and music festivals, and dancing at Parisian jazz clubs. 

Would you recommend the program to others?

Definitely. Paris is such a fun place to study abroad. You never run out of things to do or see. The culture, art, architecture, music, and history are all so rich. Paris is also a great location to study abroad if you’re interested in taking trips to other European countries, which are just a short train ride or flight away.

How does this experience fit into your goals at the University?

I am an aspiring music supervisor, and a key aspect of a music supervisor’s job is selecting music to be used in different media outlets, such as films, television, and commercials. During my trip, I learned a lot about French music, and I had the opportunity to attend several concerts and festivals where I discovered many talented European artists that I’d never heard of before. Being immersed in this setting expanded my music tastes and allowed me to explore new possibilities for music placements in media that I can make in the future.

This experience also gave me the ability to improve my communication skills. I’ve learned another language, which I can utilize to communicate with more people. And I think no matter what you are studying, or what field you are working in, communication is of the utmost importance.

To learn more about studying abroad at the University of Miami, visit the Office of Study Abroad website, or attend a Study Abroad 101 information session.