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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

International Studies, English Major Spends Year Abroad Studying French, Other Cultures

Elizabeth McNair of Union returned to the University of Mississippi this fall fluent in the French language, culturally enlightened and with a host of new friends from around the world, thanks to a yearlong study in France.

A member of UM’s Croft Institute for International Studies and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, McNair spent her junior year at the University of Angers.

Supported by an Honors Fellowship, she earned up to 18 hours each semester toward her UM degree. Her studies included courses in the French language, French history, French life, phonetics, writing, speaking and art. All the classes were taught in French.

“I loved the days in class when I suddenly realized I had understood everything the teacher had said,” McNair said. “I learned so much not only in the classroom but also from being exposed to the different cultures.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of the experience was meeting other exchange students from different countries and making new friends, and especially having dinner with two other exchange students and our host mother at the house where we lived. I never knew I could have so much fun conversing in a language other than English.”

Travel was also a big part of McNair’s study abroad, both around France and other places in Europe. “The train system in France is great, and I was able to go anywhere, especially to Paris, which was only a couple hours away (from Angers).” One Paris highlight, she said, was a trip to the art museum Musee D’Orsay with her art class, where they saw all the art they had studied.

“I also had time to travel to Ireland and Norway during the breaks. I found Norway to be much more interesting than I had imagined. The coast was beautiful, even though it was freezing cold. “I visited England and missed the royal wedding by only a few days, but it was amazing to see all of the preparations taking place.”

Between semesters, McNair returned home shortly before Christmas and returned to France in time for the spring semester, which began Feb. 2. While she enjoyed her visit home, she said she was ready to return to Angers.

“I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying studying abroad until I left it for a little while,” she said. “The entire experience has added a lot to my education.”

As an UM freshman, McNair received a Luckyday Merit Scholarship and an Academic Excellence National Merit Finalist Scholarship. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the highest academic honor society across all disciplines, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. A graduate of Union High School, she is the daughter of John and Susan McNair.

Each year, the UM Study Abroad Office makes it possible for about 600 students to study in more than 80 countries covering Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. For more information, go to

The Croft Institute for International Studies is a privately endowed, selective program for students majoring in international studies to help prepare them for jobs in a global marketplace. For more information, see

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College provides undergraduate students from all disciplines with a vibrant center of academic excellence, merging intellectual rigor with public service, to help them become outstanding in their fields and engaged citizens of their communities. To learn more, visit