Alexandra Ayala, B.A., French, B.A., Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies, Spanish Minor, Class of 2020

My love for languages and travel began early in my life. My father has travelled around the world for his job since I was a little girl and he would always bring me back souvenirs and would show me pictures of the places he visited. I always asked him if I could go with him, but of course I was too little. Eventually, he was able to take my mom, my sister and I to Paris for the first time when he had some meetings there. It was the summer after my Sophomore year of high school and that was when I first fell in love with France, French culture and the language.

I started studying Spanish as a Freshman in high school. I then added French as a Junior after our trip to Paris and it quickly became my favorite language to study. After graduating high school, I decided I wanted to return to France and put my language skills to use. So, I did an exchange through the Rotary Youth Exchange program where I was paired with a French girl, Maud, from Grand-Champ, France and I went to live with her family for a month there and then she returned to Greensboro with me to live with my family for a month here in the US. This experience abroad helped me realize immersion truly is the best way to learn a language. I knew that when I went to university I would be doing a study abroad in France.
During my Freshman year at UNCG, with the help of the wonderful International Program Center, I began making plans to study abroad my Sophomore year. At the time I was working on both my French major and my Spanish minor, so I decided that I would study for half of my Sophomore year in Rennes, France and the second half in Cáceres, Spain. It required a lot of planning, but I knew in the end it would be worth it because I would be getting that immersion experience in both of my target languages. My experience abroad in both France and Spain was phenomenal and my language skills improved exponentially.
After I finished all of the required courses for my French major and Spanish minor, I decided to start studying German, which is another language that has always been fascinating to me. I took a semester of German here at UNCG and then found a German-language intensive program in Mannheim, Germany at the University of Mannheim. I took that course for a month in the summer and it was a great experience! I studied it for another semester after I returned, but then decided to stop studying it for the moment and focus on finishing my CARS major.
I have tutored French at UNCG since January 2016 through both the TASP program and the Language, Literatures, and Cultures department. When I graduate in May 2020, I hope to be able to continue to put my language skills to use when I find an internship in the retail industry and eventually a job in the industry, whether that be here or abroad. I also hope to be able to pick German back up again in the future!