Salut! My name is Olivia Coffman and I’m a third year International Relations major with a minor in French. I come from a bilingual and bicultural French-American family and grew up speaking both languages. In addition to this, I’ve lived the majority of my life in Asia and the Middle East in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. Living abroad also allowed me to travel all over, like to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Australia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines just to name a few! Coming back to California for college was an interesting change from my life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I lived for my middle school and high school years, but was a very welcome one as the Californian part of my identity is one I hold very dearly.
In fall of 2016 I participated in a UCEAP program at the Université de Bordeaux in southwestern France. This was an incredibly special experience for me as a heritage student because I was able to get in touch with my French roots by living in Bordeaux for 5 months. Having grown up with a French mother, I had a fairly good grasp of the language but was missing quite a bit of cultural knowledge that I was able to immerse myself in during my semester abroad. I met all of my goals during my time in France: I improved my French, became more confident in my speaking, learnt a great deal about the culture, and visited multiple parts of the country to gain a more holistic image of my (other) home country and its diversity.
Travel has been an enormous part of my life and has truly shaped me into the person I am today. It is my greatest passion and is an experience that I believe everyone should have at some point in their lives. This is why I love working at Study Abroad — I love being a part of other students’ study abroad experiences because it is certainly one that they will remember for the rest of their lives.