Meet Our Majors

Alia SimpsonAlia Simpson is our "notable major" of the season!


Name: Alia Simpson

Major: French

Year at UNO: Junior

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Favorite book/author (French, Spanish or other):Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo was the first book I read in French. My copy has been read and reread so many times that it is now falling apart. I’ve hunted treasure on the isle of Monte Cristo with Edmond Dantès and sought revenge against Ferdnand, Danglars, and Villefort. However, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban runs a very close second as my favorite book (because J.K. Rowling is a mad genius).

Favorite musical group or solo artist: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite musical artist, per se, but M.I.A. just released her album AIM in September and at the moment it’s one of my favorite albums. I love how she combines different musical genres and never shies away from topics that other artists don’t feel comfortable addressing. She also announced that AIM is going to be her last album. I sincerely hope that she changes her mind, but she has been “Uniting people since 2003”.

 The summer I learned to spell my name, my mom also taught me to cross stitch my name onto Aida cloth. I used to follow patterns other people created; but I’ve been creating a lot of my own lately, including a free hand drawn map of the Paris metro.

Francophone or Hispanic person (living or deceased) whom you most admire and why: Mcbess is a French artist, illustrator and musician. His style reminds me of all of the old school cartoons, but with a modern surrealist twist. He works in collaboration with other artists out of a shop in Berlin called the Dudes Factory; here’s a shameless plug Mcbess also is part of the band The Dead Pirates. They’re a rock group, playing their own version of rock. Besides playing the guitar, he also designs all of the artwork for the band. Their new album Highmare was released in August and can be heard here,

Favorite French or Spanish word(s) or expression(s) and why: “Tu chantes du yoaurt” an expression that literally means “you sing yogurt” is one of my favorite French expressions that means to sing made up words or sounds when you don’t know the lyrics to songs. Besides the fact that “yoaurt” is one of the hardest French words for me to say (trust me I’ve tried a lot to the glee of many a French person), but also it describes me in a nutshell. I truly believe in my made up yogurt words, until I look up the lyrics.

Most memorable French or Spanish-related moment(s) at UNO and why: In the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to visit France for the first time as part of UNOs Glories of France program. It was the best experience of my entire life. Even the simplest things, like walking three blocks to buy a baguette were terrifying and exciting. I had to purchase a magazine from a corner store and present on an article in class. I am a huge advocate of all of UNOs study abroad programs, whether it be for the summer or for a year, exploring another culture outside of the United States is so beneficial.

The main reason(s) I study a foreign language: My mom has had a HUGE impact on my love of the French language. My great grandfather was a French interpreter in World War I and my grandmother only spoke French until she went to school. These are the people that inspired and taught my mother, and in turn she inspired and taught me. She was also part of the first CODOFIL exchange class sent to France in high school in 1971, and from 1985 to 1986 my parents and my older brother lived in Lamorlaye, France. When they moved back to America my brother only spoke French. However, now I am the only of my mother’s three children that speak French. French is the thing that connects us. We watch films in French, cook from French recipes, text in French, and share French books; all while speaking French.

Countries visited and when:In 2006 my parents took my sister, Claire, and me to Quebec City in Canada. I think my mom wanted to be in a place where she could use her knowledge of French. I just remember the day-long whale watching excursion we went on. In 2011 our family went to Mexico for a family reunion. Finally, in 2013 I went to France, an experience I had waited my entire life to have. I was going to UNO’s Glories of France program in July; but we left America a few weeks earlier to visit with family friends, Marc and Dominique. I was able to see Lamorlaye, where my brother grew up. After the Glories of France program I travelled to Normandy to stay with Marc and Dominique again. They took me to see Mont St. Michel and the Tapisserie de Bayeux. I am truly grateful for the time that I spent with them and their dog Basile.

Graduate school/career plans:I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in France. There are two programs that I am interested in: the first is the French equivalent of an MBA and the second is a Masters in International Relations. I’d love to work as a corporate liaison between France and an English-speaking country. I’d also consider working for the government in the same capacity. Wanderlust is in my blood, and as long as I am constantly moving, I’ll be happy.

Do you communicate in French or Spanish outside the classroom? If so, with whom and in what situations? I am very fortunate to be able to both speak and text in French regularly with my mom, as well. She practices her French at the Alliance Française in New Orleans once a week and is involved in some of their events. If I’m not in school or working, I go with her. This past summer there was a “Speak Easy”, for 15 minutes we spoke French with someone and once the 15 minutes was up we switched to a new partner. I went because I was promised wine would be involved, but coincidentally a friend of mine from UNO’s French program, Alia Simpson, happened to be there. I also speak French a lot at work. Most of the time it’s to practice spontaneously putting sentences together, but I also enjoy trying to teach the guys in the kitchen. Listening to them attempt to say au revoir when I leave for the night is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.