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French Adventures

BYU’s International study programs lead student Austin Nelson to new heights at the Paris Air Show.

People walk in front of a large plane
Photo by Austin Nelson

Austin Nelson’s (Accounting, French ’25) desire to learn French started as a child, when he heard his grandparents, who have French ancestry, speak the language. Nelson says, “For Sunday dinner my grandpa would always say ‘venez, à table’ (come to the table).” The dash of French at home inspired Nelson to pursue French in high school. He later served his mission in France, and has continued to hone his language abilities through a second major in French. Through Nelson’s international studies in the College of Humanities, he has strengthened not only his French, but also his business acumen, his career, and his cultural connections.

Over the summer, Nelson lived in France as part of an international study program. While there, he interned with the US Commercial Service of the US embassy in Paris. He arrived just in time to help with the Paris Air show, the largest international aerospace and defense trade show. Nelson collaborated with a team of French employees to collect information and organize packets for companies new to the event. Nelson says that even with the pressure of putting on the airshow, “speaking French with people in the office was really fun.”

After frenzied weeks of working, the airshow arrived. With aircraft flying overhead, Nelson and the other interns witnessed their hard work payoff. Nelson recalls, “All the US companies that came to the trade show who wanted to make connections with people internationally were all in a huge room together . . . It was really cool.”

Outside of work, Nelson enjoyed walking the grounds at the Chateau de Versailles, eating raclette, and visiting the Musée Méliès, which celebrates one of the first ever filmmakers, Georges Méliès. Nelson says, “I took a French and Italian cinema class before coming to France, and Méliès was one of my favorite filmmakers that we studied.”

Nelson shared advice for students who are new to the French program or considering international studies; he says, “Immerse yourself in French culture and language.” That means not just the food and the aesthetics of culture, but also the day to day. For example, Nelson took a French Business class before he traveled to France, which gave him the specific vocabulary and skills he needed to excel in his internship. He continues, “There are so many different programs that you can do, and I’m so grateful for the College of Humanities for helping us to pursue our passions.”

Nelson plans to intern with an accounting firm during winter semester and pursue a career in international business.

Learn more about BYU’s French Studies Program.