Carnegie Mellon University

Ema Woodward

Ema Woodward

Class of 2013, Major- Global Studies; Minors- French & Francophone Studies; Architecture


Ema Woodward spent her summer before junior year in Montpellier, France. After four weeks of taking French classes, she interned at a small grassroots-like organization called Dévéloppement Solidaire et Durable (DSD). As part of her experience in the French work environment, she conducted research on green business in America, green technology, and virtual communities. She prepared presentations in French based on this research, contributed ideas to the organization's community activities, and communicated with potential sponsors and partners. From this experience, Ema learned so much about what it takes to run a small business in sustainable development, as well as what the workplace environment in France is like. She spent the rest of her summer traveling in various regions of France, Spain, and Switzerland. She is currently studying at the Catholic University of Paris for the academic year.

Study Abroad Perspective

Where do I even begin? To start, I will just say that having been able to travel and see so much of France (and then some) has been simply amazing. The architecture, the food, and the culture in Europe are unlike anything I've ever experienced growing up in the States.

With that said, my internship in Montpellier gave me a lot of good experience, aside from no doubt improving my French. I would warn others who are looking for a summer job or internship in France that it is common for the French to go on vacation during the month of August. If I had the chance to do this experience again, I probably would have tried to do it during the months of June and July, where there are more people around the office and generally more work to be done. However, even a relaxed internship abroad was still an important contribution to learning the language and culture in the midst of a local work environment.

Since I have returned to Paris for my studies, I have been having the time of my life. My program (through ISA) has been super in organizing interesting activities and excursions for the students, and has also been very supportive in helping us to adapt to this new city. Some examples of activities organized by my program have included: Versailles, tour of the Latin Quarter, a night at the Opera, and going to see a professional football match. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to visiting the Loire Valley and the Catacombs.

Needless to say, these experiences that I am having abroad have surely changed me as a person for the better; they have broadened my horizons and made me grow into a more independent and outgoing person.