Before coming to Mansfield University from France to study, Florent Girardello and Chloe Martin had no idea what a homecoming celebration was. To say the two exchange students embraced the American tradition would be an understatement.
“In the beginning we did not know what this was,” Girardello said. “So we said, why not? Let’s try it.”
“We thought it would be great to promote the French Club and so, we did it,” Martin added.
Girardello ran in the campus-wide voting as the French Club representative, with Martin serving as his escort, and he was crowned homecoming king at MU’s sprint football game last Saturday.
“I was surprised and very honored,” Girardello said.
“All the processes were amazing, “Martin said as she talked about dressing up, riding in the parade and everything else that goes with a homecoming celebration. “We don’t have anything like this (at home).”
“The unity and the fraternity on the campus was very impressive,” Girardello added.
The pair are part of Mansfield’s student exchange program with the Political Science Institute at the University of Toulouse in France. Two MU students are currently studying there.
For Girardello, who is from Paris, this is third time he’s been to the U.S. Martin is from Terville in northern France. This is her first visit to America. Both are impressed with Mansfield, the campus and the community.
“The first thing is the people,” Martin said. “They are very friendly and very helpful.”
Girardello says if he made list of people who have made them feel at home, “the list would be very long.” But he and Martin both say that Monique Oyallon would be at the top of that list.
Oyallon is assistant professor of French, director of the Study Abroad program, coordinator of the International Student Exchange Program and French Club advisor at Mansfield.
Girardello and Martin hope their new American friends realize that, while they may not become campus royalty, there are similar experiences to be had by studying abroad.
“It is impressive on your resume,” Martin said. “And it is nice to speak another language and discover another country.”
“Just try it,” Girardello added. “It’s a great experience and a great adventure.”
For more information on Mansfield’s international exchange and study abroad programs, visit mansfield.edu/international.