For many American students, going to school and working here in the United States is a part of our everyday lives. However, for many French citizens coming to America is a dream.
The number of French students studying in the United States has increased 17 percent over the past seven years according to the International Business Times.
Despite this increase, I had a tough time trying to find French students taking classes at the University of Kansas.
After emailing multiple University departments and contacts trying to find a French student taking classes at the University, I was told that many French students opted out of being contacted for University projects.
Shortly after, I received an email from Clarisse Barbier, a University General Teacher’s Assistant (GTA) from France, who was more than willing to sit down and answer my questions.
Barbier left her home in Besancon, France to become a GTA for the University French department. She arrived in the U.S. for the first time this August and is currently teaching French for Beginners.
Barbier came to the United States to move on and start a new life. In Besancon she received her Masters degree in English, but had not been able to use it. She took this opportunity to use what she learned while starting a new chapter in her life.
Even though she has graduated with her Masters, as a GTA at the University she is still required to take classes.
Many French students choose to come to the U.S. to study because the U.S. school system is more efficient and has more money than in France, said Barbier.
Unlike the U.S., public universities in France are free. Because school is more expensive in the U.S., students are more studious and the curriculums are more intense.
“It’s much more demanding than in France,” said Barbier.
Barbier only takes two classes at the University, but said she works harder for these two classes than she ever did for her Masters degree.
Like Barbier, Amadine Thevenet-Brown also has an English degree from France.
Thevenet-Brown is a kindergarten teacher at Academie Lafayette, a K-8 French Language Immersion Public Charter School in Kansas City, Mo. Thevenet-Brown, originally from Nevers, France, came to the United States for the first time in 2009. She had just completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Anglo-Saxons studies and English language and planned on teaching English in her home country. But before she started, she wanted to spend a year abroad in an English speaking country. It was her dream, like many other French students to come to the United States.
“After arriving in the U.S., I was even much happier than what I had expected,” Thevenet-Brown said.
French citizens have been influenced by American culture since they were very young. They watch American movies, listen to American music and even take required English classes at school. Many fantasize about coming to the U.S. imagining it like the setting of their favorite television show. For many it may be a fantasy, but for some their dream becomes a reality.
Francois Asal, a 21-year-old French student, spent seven months working as an intern at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
He said he has always been attracted to the U.S. Asal describes it as the land of the self-made man, big cars and skyscrapers.
While the United States is one of the larger English-speaking countries, two other popular places to go for French citizens looking to use their English include the United Kingdom or Australia.
Many French students travel to the UK and Australia, however most choose the U.S. because of affordable living and distance.
“England is really close and we can go there whenever we want to. It’s different with the U.S.,” Asal said.