For information about careers, graduate studies, and alumni case studies, check out our Careers pages. But just as important, here’s what recent students have to say about their experience in the department.
“The French Department at Carleton is the best of the best!…”
“The professors are encouraging and are so eager to help students improve their French skills.”
– Funto Akindona ’20
“I never thought I would spend as much time in the French Department as I do…”
“This department is hands down one of the best, if not the best, at Carleton. The professors are super nice, encouraging and so supportive throughout the whole process. In fact, I may even minor in it because of the experience I have had so far.”
– Amie Salem ’20
“It’s difficult for me to capture in words just how much I’ve gained from completing a French minor at Carleton…”
“From the moment I stepped into my first French 101 class, I knew that the department was fully committed to not only enhancing our ability to speak and comprehend the language, but to empowering us to start asking more interesting, critical questions. What does it mean to be Francophone? How is language used to connect and to other? Does the idea of self change depending on what language we use to describe it? In the classes that followed French professors constantly challenged my preconceived ideas of culture, politics, and society through gripping assignments. One sweltering Parisian day, in my profound frustration from being unable to adequately express the complexities and nuances of my thoughts to a coworker, I gained a sliver of insight into the experiences of my parents, who – like millions of others – immigrated to a new country and learned to navigate life straddling different languages and lived experiences.”
“In their utmost commitment to experiential learning and expanding perspective, the faculty equipped me with lifelong tools to respectfully and meaningfully engage with the vast, hybrid world around me. Though I may not use the language itself day to day, I find myself constantly drawing on my experiences with the department to connect with colleagues, friends, and strangers..”
– Chris Lee ’20
“Studying French at Carleton has opened more doors for me than I had ever imagined possible…”
“Studying French at Carleton has opened more doors for me than I had ever imagined possible. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with students from all over France, and a few of them have even become some of my closest friends at Carleton. The French department also offers incredible study abroad programs in Paris and Senegal. I went on the Paris trip during my sophomore year and in addition to improving my French and eating the tastiest food in the world, I stayed with the kindest, most wonderful host family.
“The department also has a new program in Senegal that I hope to attend next winter. There, I’ll get to explore the way countries rebuild themselves after colonization. Even better than the study abroad opportunities have been the relationships I’ve gotten to build with my French professors. My relationships with my professors mean the world to me — I’ve been out to lunch with them, had dinners at their houses, and count on them for personal and academic support as I continue at Carleton and beyond!”
– Eva Druskin ’19
“Studying French gives a student new perspectives from which to comprehend our complex world…”
“Studying French gives a student new perspectives from which to comprehend our complex world. Through the study of French literature, film, poetry, art, song, and other media, one can foster an appreciation for the beauty of diversity. From the Caribbean to Indochina to West Africa and beyond, the study of French offers the curious mind a portal through which one can begin to appreciate the beauty of the diverse French diaspora.
“At Carleton, studying French goes beyond an understanding of basic verb conjugations and pictures of Paris. French professors at Carleton give students the ability to dive into francophone cultures around the globe … not to mention the amazing study abroad opportunities in Paris and the francophone world as well as crêpe nights on campus!”
– Nick Leeke ’18
“I took courses that touched on controversial yet important issues and changed my way of thinking and how I view the world…”
“Learning a new language from scratch is never easy, especially in Carleton’s demanding academic environment. However, French classes at Carleton are so interdisciplinary, fascinating, and eye-opening that I felt that my effort has been worth it. I took courses like Banned Books and Middle East and the French Connection that touched on controversial yet important issues and changed my way of thinking and how I view the world.
“I also found the French department to be extremely supportive. The professors are very encouraging in class and patient with any questions during office hours. French assistants and my fellow French friends also helped me to learn. Towards the end of my time at Carleton, I realized that I have gained much more than the language skills through studying French.”
– Moliang Jiang ’18
“My first class at Carleton was FREN 101, Elementary French. I remember feeling overwhelmed. The first trimester was challenging, but the encouragement and support I received made all the difference….”
French really broadened my horizons. The best example of this is the Paris Program, which was one of my best college memories. I’m from Montgomery, Alabama, so it was truly a boy meets world experience. I was fortunate to be able to stay in Paris for the summer and do an internship at a shoe company with a bespoke shoemaker.
The attention to detail that [I learned from studying French] is comparable to checking citations in law review articles and court opinions. That experience was great preparation for my current position as a federal law clerk to the first African-American judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama….
All that to say, you never know where Elementary French will take you.
– Chris Griffin ’17
“Thanks to [studying French at] Carleton, I have been able to work in several Francophone countries who need bilingual people!…”
At present, I’m engaged in telehealth/telenutrition for my own company…, Dietetic Wellness, Inc., and I use French all the time because my clients are both English speakers and French speakers. I am concentrating on nutrition for migrants and women — and on African cooking!
– Iyamide Olukoshi, ’14
“Everything about studying languages and cultures and literature is great! French classes trained me to analyze arguments, communicate clearly, and consider multiple perspectives on issues…”
When I wrote my comps … on 500-year-old French books, I learned a lot about those texts. But I also learned a lot about topics (like how people think about individual and national identity) that remain important in the world now, and that’s helped me better understand current events.
And it’s not all work — some of my best memories from the French major are of delicious meals and ice cream in Paris with friends! I’m sure the skills I learned as a French major — especially critical thinking, awareness of different cultural perspectives, and communication skills (in multiple languages!)- — will be valuable for any job I do in the future.
– Emily Epperson ’14
“I came to Carleton to get a liberal arts education … I didn’t plan to be a French major, but my first year at Carleton made that choice both inevitable and obvious…”
I had the great fortune to spend spring term of my first year in France, and then a full junior year abroad learning and exploring in Aix-en-Provence, France. I made life-long friends on these study-abroad programs — some of them Americans, many of them French — and I met people that challenged and changed how I think about the world. While on campus, I worked HARD with my professors to learn how to think and write critically in a challenging but almost family-like environment. I cherish the support from my professors through that experience!
Since I graduated from Carleton 25 years ago, I’ve spent 15 of those years living abroad, with a roughly equal amount of time spent in Switzerland, France, China and Australia. My French is still better than my Chinese, but what I’ve learned through my studies and the years since is that studying language is so much more than learning the meaning of words and sentences; studying language gives you a deep window onto understanding a culture and a people. Once you see the world through that window, you forever have a fundamentally different way of understanding and connecting with the entire world.
– Peter Everett ’97
“Studying French at Carleton fueled my love of the language, and studying in France was one of the highlights of my Carleton education…”
The French courses that I took, as well as the trips and excursions that were integral to the off-campus study program, helped me learn not only the French language but also French culture, exposing me to a different way of looking at and experiencing the world.
Learning French grammar and vocabulary in the classroom was important, but applying them outside of the classroom – with my host family, on the streets, in stores and restaurants, etc. – was invaluable and made learning the language in-country fun, challenging and rewarding. Both on and off campus, studying French at Carleton was a worthwhile and memorable experience that I still cherish today.
– H.D. Nguyen ’93
“I still feel that my liberal arts education serves me every day in my medical career. I’m now a professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California San Francisco...”
Here in multi-cultural San Francisco, I occasionally get to speak French to patients … but I still find that the language and the literature are pleasures in and of themselves. They are still “useful” to me in that regard. Beyond that, is it “useful” to me to have learned languages I don’t get to use regularly? Absolutely.
I would say that it was from learning French that I absorbed lasting, deeply “useful” lessons about otherness, about openness, and about communication. I take these lessons with me to work on a daily basis. Every day, I find it useful to remind my students and trainees to NOT use the medical language they have become fluent in when speaking with their patients. Every day, I treat patients who must struggle to tell their stories through translators and struggle to live their daily lives without the benefit of translators. Every day, I treat English-speaking patients who are searching for the right words to explain their symptoms and fears. I search for narratives, symbols, meanings, and double meanings. I understand there are different ways to interpret these.
So, thank you for an education that is still useful and beautiful to me.
– Jim Hardy ’88