Postcard from Paris

The Department of World Languages and Literatures at Western Michigan University is delighted to share this update from an alumnus.

James Stickel, WMU graduate '06, Bachelor of Arts in French and English

James Stickel and girlfriend

When I started taking French classes in high school, I did so because I wanted to have a different perspective on some of the French literature I was reading at the time. I didn’t really plan to continue these studies at university, but when I started classes at WMU and looked over the offerings from French program I decided that it would be good to try to add French as a minor to my English degree. I was still interested in French literature and poetry, and there were many courses that dealt specifically with these subjects.

After a few semesters I was hooked and began signing up for as many French courses as I could. I became familiar with the French program’s staff and found their classes more interesting and enjoyable than my other courses. I decided to change my minor to a major and am really happy I did so.

Working with the French professors in the different French courses throughout my years as a student at WMU was a very engaging and fulfilling experience. I really took pleasure in the French culture classes I had and in helping out with the Francophone Film Festival. My semester studying abroad was another highlight of my French studies, made all the more enjoyable by the experiences I shared with my classmates and the support I received from my professors.

Photo of sunset by James StickelI am now happy to say that thanks to help from my French studies and a bit of good luck, I have found my way to France and have started working and living in Paris. I met an astounding French lady while working abroad in 2011 and I came to join her in Paris last year. We have since married and we are now living together right in the heart of the city. I am working as a freelance English teacher and am also working part-time with an experimental film distributor. I’m sure that none of this would’ve been possible if I had not continued my French studies at WMU.

I encourage others to take a look at the courses offered in French by the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Western Michigan University and to get to know their staff. I have always found them helpful and interesting to talk to. They can help you along with your plans for studying French here at WMU which could ultimately lead you to life and work abroad and experiences that can only enrich your future.