Hello, welcome to the beginning of my semester study abroad experience in Paris, France! My name is Laura Dibble, and I am a junior at Pitt studying Biology and French with a minor in Chemistry. In just about a week, I will embark on a four-month stay in the capital of France, studying at l’Institut Catholique de Paris through a Pitt-recognized CEA program. I look forward to working on my French fluency, experiencing the differences of the European education system, and moving out of my comfort zone with new people, new places, and new customs.
I hail from the quaint Philadelphia suburb of Jenkintown, PA. I grew up in a small public school other than two years my family spent living abroad. We were relocated to the United Arab Emirates when I was in elementary school, and those years gave me a love of language learning (at the time, Arabic) and a travel bug that I will be rekindling this spring. I hope to explore many countries and expand my knowledge of culture and cuisine. As a biology major, I plan to attend medical school after I graduate and would like to be certified as bilingual and have an expanded worldview and cultural understanding to treat patients with greater empathy. Global differences in healthcare and universal access to medicine are very important to recognize; I would like to bring back a better awareness of Europe’s strengths and use the perspective in my practice of medicine.
I have been learning French since the eighth grade and had a high school teacher that instilled a strong passion in global Francophone culture across continents, from North Africa, to Canada, to the Caribbean. The Parisian perspective on language and culture has a strong influence on the rest of the world. I hope being at its center will provide a strong sense of the societal norms, the appreciation for cuisine, and the ways in which American culture has seeped into the younger generation’s life, slang, and fashion. Fluency in conversational French is a significant goal for me, as I am accustomed to textbook vernacular and formal speaking styles. I will be taking, with other local, non-native speakers, a large language block course and one elective course, both taught completely in French. I look forward to advancing my French major, gaining hands-on experience with the culture, and experiencing college life in a neighborhood more urban than my housing at Pitt.
Back in Oakland, I am an involved board member of The Imagination Project, where we dress up as beloved childhood characters, such as princesses and superheroes, to visit children in hospital settings or at local walks for cures. It is my absolute favorite way to give back to the community and bring endless smiles to kids through precious interactions. I am also a chemistry tutor for the American Chemical Society at Pitt (ACS), and I am an undergraduate teaching assistant for organic chemistry. The French Club has been my go-to this year for practicing conversation with other students studying the language, as well as with my father who is fluent. I love spending time with friends, doing game nights, exploring new restaurants, and seeking out the best record store in Pittsburgh (#1 is probably the Attic in Millvale)! I look forward to expanding my interests to historical sites in France, particularly at museums, gardens and castles. Look out for updates after my first week in Paris, and wish me luck as I finish up my to-do list and finally pack my suitcase!