First Year Experiences

All entering students enroll in a First-Year Seminar as part of the College’s core requirement for graduation. Small classes like these—with an emphasis on discussion, an opportunity for individualized student research projects, and the development of strong communication skills—serve as the foundation for your undergraduate experience. The seminars below are instructed by professors of French in the Modern Languages and Cultures Department.

Cultures, Connections, and Communities from Albion to France—and Back

Instructor: Dr. Dianne Guenin-Lelle

The Albion-France connection is rich, vibrant, and longstanding. We continue to have students and alumni living, working, and studying in Grenoble and Paris, while French native speakers live and study at Albion College. As part of the course, we will meet and interview some of these individuals, both at Albion and in France. We will learn from their experiences and insights. As another part of the course, we will study the theories of “culture” and cross-cultural communication, in order to understand which parts of our identity are embedded in American culture, and how our culture acts as a filter through which we understand other cultures.

Course materials include readings such as Cultural MisunderstandingsA Year in Provence, and Au Contraire: Figuring out the French, and we will also draw on French news media and films as well as the Internet. As part of our fieldwork, there will be a trip to France, during fall break, with stays in Paris and in Albion’s sister city, Noisy-le-Roi. To enroll in the course, students will need to have studied French for at least two years in high school. A passport and a field trip fee are required.

An instructor for the past 21 years, Dianne Guenin-Lelle (Ph.D., Louisiana State University) has taught a wide array of courses at all levels of French, as well as courses relating to women’s studies, ethnic studies, and peace studies. Born in New Orleans, in a family where French is not a “foreign” language, she researches the current cultural renaissance in Southwest Louisiana, post-Katrina studies relating to New Orleans, 17th-century French Quietism, and multicultural teaching. She hopes that her students learn to be more understanding of the richness of the human condition, and more tolerant and accepting of difference. She loves to sail, travel, and spend time with her family.

See pictures from France and read what students have said about the experience.

Read the trip's student-created blog, To France and Back.