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Kalamazoo College

Molly Merkel

French & Francophone Studies

Hometown: Chelsea, MI
Majors: French and English
Study Abroad: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Best Adjective to Describe You: Hungry

In 20 words or less, what is the best thing about being part of this department?
In attempting to improve my French I seek out French media/shows/films/etc. that include information that I would not have encountered otherwise.

What is your advice to first years and sophomores about getting connected to this department?
The French department shows films in French just about every week, and even if you aren't in a French class one particular quarter doesn't mean you're not invited to the films that quarter! The French TAs also do conversation hours where you can go play games or chat with other students as well as put on special events from time to time (sometimes there are crêpes!), and these things are always better with more people around.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
That admitting I'm bad at something doesn't have to be devastating. Basically, I am learning how to suck at stuff but also how to know when I can and cannot be comfortable with that.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
Probably French 301. We read Candide, and the experience of being able to understand humor in a foreign language – even vaguely – for the first time played a significant role in helping me recognize the extent to which I value my relationship with the French language. It can be so hard to feel like progress is being made when one is in the process of learning a language, and the introduction to slightly more demanding literature helped me realize just how far I had come (and gave me hope for how much further I could go).

How have you taken advantage of the open curriculum or experienced breadth in your education?
I would not have my French major without such an open curriculum, so clearly I am extremely grateful for K's system in that respect. I was able to take French classes with sort of a “just because” attitude since I didn't have to worry about getting certain general education requirements out of the way, and in doing so I quickly realized that French was much more important to me than I had realized before beginning college. On the other hand, it took me three quarters to get around to taking a class in my other major, so by the time I chose it I knew that other departments I had been considering weren’t for me and I’m happy with what I’ve chosen.

What experiential education opportunities have you participated in?
I am an intern for the recycling department here at K, and I spent one winter break volunteering at a community resource center in my hometown.

What is your SIP?
I am doing a French literature SIP on Marie Redonnet's triptych, Héritières.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I am hoping to be an English teaching assistant in France, and after that things aren't quite so certain...probably more school, perhaps some teaching someday?

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