Haven Hill was placed in her first-year seminar – Cultures, Connections, and Communities from Albion to France – and Back – by accident.
In fact, the course which aimed to help students grow in their understanding of how their identity is related to their home culture and acts as a filter through which they understand other cultures was Hill's third choice.
Hill's first choice for the class was one charging students to consider the people who grow, harvest, process, transport, prepare and consume food using pizza – the seemingly favorite food of young people in the United States – as an object lesson.
While Hill didn't get her first choice, her first-year seminar did come with a fine experience during the break between semesters. She joined her classmates on a field trip to Albion's sister cities of Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly to experience the culture and make connections first hand.
"I developed a relationship with my host family and it was hard for me to leave," the Traverse City, Mich., native and middle hitter on the Briton volleyball team said. "I know we will continue to stay in touch.
"I loved learning about the architecture," she added, noting she fulfilled a dream when the host family took her to Paris to view the Eiffel Tower. "It sparkles the first five minutes of every hour."
Meals with the host family were an important part of the cultural experience.
"The host family had later meals and a lot of time dinner lasted an hour and a half or longer," she noted.
While she is undecided on a major after just a semester at Albion, Hill said the seminar and field trip inspired her to become fluent in another language. In fact, she changed her spring semester schedule to include a course in German. And while she is exploring classes that interest her, Hill is weighing options to spend a semester studying abroad.
"I was a little jealous (of classmates who were able to understand the French language on the field trip)," Hill admitted. "But the host family spoke English pretty well and I was usually around someone who could translate."