Name: Paul Frankle
Year: Class of 2009
Hometown: Menlo Park, CA
Major: International Studies
Minor: French Cultural Studies
When I was eight years old, my parents took me and my brother on a two week vacation to Europe. One of the amazing cities we visited on that memorable trip was Paris. Looking around at all of the magnificent architecture, monuments and museums, I knew that I wanted to learn more about Paris and the rest of France. When it came time for me to choose a foreign language to study in middle school, I remembered that trip to Paris and decided to give French a try. In high school, French became one of my favorite subjects and I knew that I wanted not only to study the grammar and vocabulary of the language but also the culture of the French people. The French Cultural Studies Minor at Hopkins gave me the opportunity to do just that.
The first requirement of the minor is two semesters of French Conversation and Composition. These courses will give you an introduction to reading, analyzing and discussing short stories and journal articles in French. The next requirement is the completion of one semester of La France Contemporaine. This course is truly dedicated to current French culture and touches on many topical issues that are relevant today in France. Although only one semester of this course is required for the minor, I would suggest taking both, as there are so many aspects of French culture to study.
One of the best opportunities available to students involved in the French program at Hopkins is the option of studying abroad for a year at Sciences Po, which has campuses throughout France. During my junior year, I chose to take advantage of this opportunity and lived in Paris for a year. I quickly learned that studying French culture was one thing, but living at its epicenter was something else entirely. From taking almost all my classes in French to figuring out the intricacies of the French supermarket, living in France was a daily adventure. There is no better way to learn about French culture than by immersing yourself head first in it, and I highly recommend the Sciences Po program as one of the best ways of doing this.
When I returned to Hopkins from Paris, I was happy to learn that certain classes I took at Sciences Po counted toward the French Minor (all classes taken at Sciences Po count for university credit). For those who choose not to study abroad, three upper-level French courses (3 courses from 210.300-400 and 211.300-400 series OR 3 courses from 210.300-400, 211.300-400, and 212.201-202 (i.e. one from each)) are required to complete the French Cultural Studies Minor. Although I had already completed my minor, I decided to take another French course, titled “Real French: From Slang to Sophistication”. This course taught me the fundamentals of both slang and sophisticated French, which are not normally covered in depth in earlier French classes.
Overall, I have enjoyed the classes and professors in the French department. I have learned so much about France, the French language and the French people. For anyone interested in France and French culture, including music, movies, books, and current events, I cannot recommend the French Cultural Studies Minor highly enough.
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the French Cultural Studies/Literature question thread.