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Studying French in Martinique

Bethany Untied Auchettl - My French Life- Ma Vie FrancaiseMartinique group at water

In the winter of 2005, I studied abroad in Martinique. To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement. As a transfer student studying furiously to make up for lost credit, I assumed I would never have the chance to study abroad.

But all that changed when my literature professor, Dr. Yolande Helm, created the Martinique program. The timing was perfect, everything fell into place, and that November I found myself on a crazily small plane headed to a tropical island where everyone speaks French.

Bethany Untied Auchettl - My French Life- Ma Vie FrancaiseMartinique group at university

I can barely begin to describe such a wonderful trip. Our literature classes were held in the blissfully cool hours of the morning. After school, we hiked to a secluded beach to do our homework and munch on fresh fruits and baguettes.

On the weekends, Dr. Helm provided various amazing excursions – kayaking in the mangroves, exploring the volcanic ruins of Saint Pierre, and other tours and soirées.

We had the amazing honor of meeting Aimé Césaire, a founder of the literary movement called négritude. Martiniquaise author Suzanne Dracius led us on fabulous tours to places described in her books.

We picnicked on the beautiful south end of the island and ate traditional island food. All in all, it was non-stop fun in the sun, with a healthy dose of history, culture and literature.

Bethany Untied Auchettl - My French Life- Ma Vie FrancaiseMeeting Aimé Césaire

The memories from that trip will stay with me for a lifetime. Between our journals, photos and the video project my roommate made, it would be impossible to forget even a moment of my Martinique experience. It is truly a huge part of my French life.

Many thanks to Mike Gulley, whose video inspired this article and to Yolande Helm, who simply inspired.

All images courtesy Bethany Untied Auchettl


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