Journey (Steward) Schall
Foremost, knowing French helped me get into graduate school at Northern Illinois University as I already have completed one of the requirements for my degree, and it reflected well that I am traveled, and that I have the skills necessary to learn a language.
French has helped me in my career as I am gaining my master's degree in global history, with the aim of studying gender history in Islamic North Africa.
Knowing French is vital to completing the research I will need to do in my field, since I will not necessarily be able to rely on translated evidence. I plan on focusing on Moroccan history in particular, and as a former French colony, many of the historical documents I will be looking at will be in French. As a historian, it's very important to look at primary sources, and proficiency in French is a tool that allows that. Also, knowing another language lends more legitimacy to the study of history, as it demonstrates someone who is well informed.
Before being accepted to graduate school, I studied at NMU with a dual degree in French and Political Science. While at NMU I did a study abroad program in Montpellier at a language institute named I.L.A. from September-December 2005. The institute employed native French professors, but the students were all international students, lending an atmosphere of diversity and mutual learning. The curriculum was especially interesting because of the small classes (10 people or less). We also had a chance to analyze current events from the French perspective. While there, I lived with a family, including three other international students. Because my courses were language intensive, and only in the mornings, I was able to experience quite a lot of the culture in southern France, including travel through the Languedoc-Rousillion region.