In 8th grade middle school, I had to pick a language to study, and being half Mexican, my mom wouldn’t let me take Spanish since I already used it in my everyday home life. So, my only other option was French. At that point, I never thought I’d take it with me after high school, but I was very wrong.
In my Junior year of high school, I was able to take a two-week trip to France since I was enrolled in French. It was an amazing opportunity to explore the culture and put my French to the test. On the way back, my French teacher, Madame Behn, asked the group if we would ever consider studying abroad, to which I said yes. That one question opened up a huge door for my life. Immediately after answering Madame I googled Art schools in France. I applied to the first one that I saw, Paris College of Art, which I am now in my second semester for this school year. I never thought I’d get in and I definitely had people disagree with what I’m doing, especially now with Covid. Even one of my teachers told me not to be upset if I didn’t get in, which I didn’t even think I was going to anyway, But Madame supported me and was so excited for me. She was the first person I told after I found out. (Pictured above from left to right: Jessalynne, Claire, Andrea Behn - Janesville Parker High School French Teacher and Mercedes)
It's crazy to look back that I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn't taken French. French has opened so many doors for me educational and career wise, but also culturally. I’ll now have more perspectives and experiences than the average college student.
In my senior year of high school, I finally had an exhibit up for the art show but unfortunately because of Covid, that was canceled. I was excited to show off a bit and say that I got accepted into an American university in Paris and thank Madame for that. I ended up having my Art shown at the 2020 Holiday Art Show that the Janesville Art League held where I sold two pieces that I had made in my first semester at PCA; that made up for having my school’s art show cancelled.
Unfortunately, I had to do my first semester at PCA online because of Covid, but now that I’m here I’ll be staying for 4 years to finish my degree. I hope to get my degree in Communication Design but I might still change my mind. The first year here is called Foundation Year where you don’t have to choose your degree yet and they’ll introduce you to many different types of arts and techniques. I originally wanted to study Fine Arts, but I am now leaning more towards Communication Design.
I am so glad I took French and I love where I am in life right now because of it. I owe everything to Madame Behn. And despite Covid, I made it here safely and my plans have not changed. —
Mercedes participated in an Xperitas program in France with Janesville Parker High School with her fabulous French teacher Andrea Behn. Interested in Xperitas the French Immersion Program that inspired Mercedes? Contact us!
Mercedes with her host family, Jean-Claude and Frédérique Deniau.