Manavi Mongia (Johns Hopkins '21)

Manavi Mongia (Johns Hopkins '21) studied abroad in Paris, France in the Fall Semester of 2019 at Reid Hall.

August 31, 2021

Why did you choose France?

I studied French basically all of middle and high school. Of course there are other francophone countries that I was kind of considering, but I knew someone who had done the Reid Hall Program and who’s going to say no to Paris?

Why did you want to study abroad in the first place?

It was something I always wanted to do. Not to sound cliché, but I wanted to immerse myself in the language and I wanted to try to become fluent in French. It’s something that I always knew I wanted to do in High School. People say it’s such a formative experience so there was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t do it.

Was it good for you to take some time away from Cognitive Science?

Yeah for sure. That was definitely the time to explore. Taking urban history and politique culturelle and the film class were all very important to me. I didn’t want to come to Paris and take a bunch of Cogsci classes, that would have been counterproductive for me. I thought it was way more interesting to do the other stuff.

What was your favorite part about living in Paris?

I think it was exploring the new city. Also speaking French was a little intimidating at first but the more you do it, the more comfortable you become and the happier you feel that you’re able to get a productive conversation in with French people. Even if they may have judged my accent a little, they still responded in French, which always felt good. My host mother was also really kind and I really enjoyed our dinners we would have throughout the week. At Reid Hall, I like how much we explored the city. For example, in my Urban History class we got to walk around so much of Paris and in my Politique Culturelle class we went to a lot of museums and I think I saw so much that I might not have even known to see had I not been in one of those classes.

What were some of the skills that you picked up in Paris that you can apply to the rest of your life?

Well of course, there’s speaking French and being comfortable looking dumb which is something I’ll take with me for sure. Also, not saying no to things and being willing to take every experience as a learning opportunity. In general, the pandemic has also made us all realize we’re never going to want to sit at home again. Just trying to take advantage of everything you can in a place and just making the most out of your time there. Because it is a constrained period of time, you want to make the most out of it, but you don’t want to stress yourself out about that and feel like you have to be doing things all the time. It’s just important to make sure you walk away from an experience feeling that you made the most out of it.

Lastly, what is the value of studying abroad for you?

For me, a lot of it was about being out of my comfort zone and being open to new opportunities. The thing about being in France is that you can pretty much get away with speaking English anywhere but pushing yourself a bit to speak French and get out of your comfort zone in that way was good. It’s also important to learn to be okay with experiences being different than you expect them to be. I think study abroad is one of those things that gets really hyped up and it can feel like you’re doing something wrong if it’s not perfect or exactly how you wanted right from the start. But experiencing challenges with change is completely normal!