Olivia Lucas

Mount Holyoke College

When I first decided to study abroad in Cameroon, I did not know what to expect. I had no idea that I would feel at home in a country so far from my own. What sets Middlebury School in Cameroon apart from other language-immersion programs is the value it places on ensuring that students not only learn French, but are also immersed in a culture. Throughout the program, I grew much more confident in my French speaking and writing abilities because I was constantly surrounded by individuals that challenged me to practice and improve these skills. At the same time, I gained a new appreciation for Cameroonian food, dance, music, culture, politics, and traditions, thanks to engaging discussions in Middlebury courses and spending quality time with my host family. My favorite experiences in Cameroon were daily taxi rides with locals because they allowed me to encounter Cameroonians from all walks of life eager to share about their background and their country. My experience in Cameroon empowered me in my identity as a black woman and helped me grow more capable of connecting with people similar to and different from me. Overall, my experience abroad enhanced my academic learning, global understanding, cultural competency, and personal growth.