Study Abroad: Colleen Drapek

Grenoble City Center

Colleen enjoying the city of Grenoble

As a freshmen, Colleen Drapek always knew that she wanted to study abroad. Her older sisters were lucky enough to have sojourned to separate destinations in Europe; Italy and Spain. During open house in her first semester at BU, she was introduced to our study abroad program, and decided to meet with a study abroad advisor to look for the best experience suiting her tastes and academic plan. She decided on Grenoble, and with some academic planning help from her advisor, participated in the Grenoble Science program in Fall of 2009. She was particularly drawn to the homestay aspect, being immersed in not only French society, but the home of a lively French family.

The french experience: Re-energizing with croissants during Colleen's ski trip

The French experience: Re-energizing with croissants during Colleen's ski trip

In Grenoble, she learned about French culture and scientific research, alongside the normal classes that fit into her core curriculum. Her chemistry course was completely taught in English, and made up of American students. Despite being taught in English, some of the French students at the University joined her Cell biology and statistics classes. Lucky for her they did, as she ended up becoming very good friends with the French students (with whom she remains in communication.) Colleen really enjoyed her internship in a clinical immunology lab in Grenoble. She learned a lot about clinical research, and is very proud of her work there, and the final report that she produced as part of the program.

Reflecting on her experience, Colleen’s favorite part of the program was learning alongside French students. The immersion not only improved her French, but she gained surprisingly close friends at the same time. During one particularly memorable occasion, the French students lent Colleen and friends ski gear and they enjoyed some fresh powder at the local ski lifts!

From the top of the Bastille, a view of the Isère River

View of the Isère River

Overall, Colleen had a memorable, enriching semester in Grenoble. She learned a lot about a new culture through her French family and friends. Her internship has given her unique insight into scientific research, and helped reveal her direction after BU. The hardest part of Colleen’s experience turned out not to be what one may guess; culture-shock, language, courses, paying for the experience, missing family back home, none of these. The most challenging aspect of Colleen’s Grenoble semester was ultimately packing, and saying goodbye to her French experience.