Meghan O'Reilly '10 (double major: English and French)
During her time at Bucknell, Meghan studied abroad in Tours. It was the first time she’d ever left the east coast, and she was surprised by how addicted she later became to the challenge. She wanted to build on her experience in Tours and loved the challenge of speaking a foreign language, so after graduation, she returned to France to teach English in a high school in Chartres. Afterwards, she decided to stay to get her Masters degree from a French university.
Although her experience teaching English was phenomenal, she wasn’t sure that she was ready to go into education. As a result, Meghan changed career paths and now is working part time in a luxury real-estate company and is studying geo-marketing. If all goes well, she will graduate in September! School is challenging, but her job is a blast and although she misses home, she plans to stay in Paris for at least another year.
“So obviously French class has had a direct impact on my career, but I think the most important lessons I've gleaned from French have been more obscure. I got an appreciation for how big the world is, and for the fact that America is not its epicenter. I learned to be more brave, confident, and self-reliant. I'll always remember the first day I arrived in Chartres to teach English. It wasn't like it was in Tours, when we all had itineraries and host parents waiting for us. In Chartres, I didn't even know where I would sleep that first night. I remember sitting at the bus stop, with no idea where to go, a few random phone numbers in my address book, and to make matters worse, there was a transportation strike. Paris was even scarier, and I still have moments when I feel incapable of navigating life in a big, foreign city. But I think moments like that are exhilarating and liberating.
I sometimes wonder whether the process of learning a foreign language is so attractive because it helps one redefine oneself or simply because it helps reveal certain qualities that one always possessed. In any case, I think that the French program at Bucknell taught me to take risks, to be adventurous, and to be tenacious. I can't count the number of times I've made an idiot out of myself in every aspect of life: ordering food, getting a cell phone, finding an apartment, finding a job. Now I think I'm immune to fearing other people's criticism!
I could go on and on I suppose, but yes, in short, studying abroad had a big impact on me! I've had plenty of homesick moments, plenty of times I've wanted to give up on France, but in the end, I always feel like there’s something left to discover, and so far there has been! And I think that whether you find yourself in a foreign country, or in a familiar town like Lewisburg, life is full of uncertainty and doubt no matter where you are. I think French helped me deal with that uncertainty.
Plus, French food is life-changing.”