International Studies & Programs


Student Stories

Back to News
Colleen Joseph - LaSalle University - Cooking for Health

Published: Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Colleen Joseph

Status: Senior

Major: Nutritional Sciences

Hometown: Grand Blanc, MI

Program: Uni LaSalle Cooking for Health + Internship, Beauvais, France, 2017

This summer, I had the unique opportunity to travel abroad to France to study at the University of LaSalle in Beauvais, France, and participate in a month long internship on a farm. The University of LaSalle specializes in agriculture, nutrition, cooking, and health. During my month long stay at LaSalle, I took French classes, integrated cooking and health classes, and experienced so much more with the wonderful and well versed professors from LaSalle. The opportunities I had at LaSalle were unbelievable and I could not have been more pleased about what I learned in the program. It was a very hands on learning experience, and different from anything else I have been involved in at Michigan State. Along with the classes we took, we also took fieldtrips to farms in the area, to the Palace of Versailles, and to Paris. Each trip was very memorable, and I learned so much more than I ever thought I would.

During my second month in France I was placed on a dairy farm for my internship. The internship portion of the program is optional, and students get to choose from a farm, vineyard, restaurant, or R&D research. Since my personal interest are in sustainable agriculture as it relates to food systems, I chose to work on a farm. While at the internship, I lived and worked with the family I was with. Not only did I learn a lot about dairy farming and farming in general, I also learned so much about the French culture while living with the Beaudoin family. This was my first experience ever working on a farm, and it was definitely hard work, but it was very rewarding in the end, and I formed lifelong relationships with the family I lived with. This was probably one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in a nontraditional internship opportunity. It was definitely an adjustment to get used to being immersed in an environment where French was spoken 90% of the time except when you were being spoken to. After about 4 days I adjusted to the culture and tired my best to pick up on as much French as I could, I even tried to studying using a language app in my free time. I also tired to embrace all of the positives in each day and enjoy as much as I could while I was there because I knew I would never have such a unique experience again. It was admirable to see how the Beaudoin family lived. They seemed to find so much joy in simple things in life and be so content with what they had. From an outsider's perspective who has never worked on a farm before, I can see where it might be boring or tiresome to interact and socialize with the same people everyday. Especially in the summer when the kids are not in school, the majority or their time is spent with their family. I thought it was such a good experience to live with the family that was so hard working, but also loving, and caring towards each other.

Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in nutrition, health, or food systems who is looking for a unique and worthwhile experience abroad.