Karl Mercer III
Studied abroad in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: 2007-2008
I am so thankful I studied French at NMU because it has been essential to my personal success and professional achievement. For me, French opened the door to the vast and vibrant Francophone culture that can be found throughout the world. I will never forget the day freshman year when my professor showed us Indochine, a French film set in colonial Vietnam. I was absolutely captivated by the scenery of terraced rice fields and sampans paddling alongside limestone karsts. At that point, I was determined to go to Vietnam. With guidance from my French professor and the NMU study abroad office, I applied for the NSEP Boren scholarship in 2007 that fully funded my year-long study abroad in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
I sincerely believe that speaking French strengthened my application because it showed my aptitude to learn a foreign language, as well as familiarity with the region’s history. I studied abroad in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia 2007-2008. During my time in Hanoi, I was pleased to discover that French is still very much alive in Indochina. Though the French left Vietnam decades ago, their influence still remains heavily engrained in architecture, cuisine and art, and much of the older generation still speak French fluently. Today, I continue to use my French and Vietnamese on a routine basis as an employee for the U.S. Defense Department. I can speak from experience that language skills are a key consideration for employers and a critical asset for professional development. French led me to Southeast Asia, but you never know where it might take you... Bonne chance et bon voyage!