French

Amy Keller

My hometown when I was a student was

Grand Haven, MI

I graduated in

1993

I studied

Majors: French and International Business Administration

I currently live in

Konstanz, Germany

I am now

a beeswax candle maker.

Since graduating from Alma

my career goals were to find a job where I could combine my love of France while putting to use my skills learned in my international business major. I sent out hundreds of blind resumes to French companies in Michigan and the Chicago area. I only got one positive answer but that was all it took to land a job in the marketing department of a French company based in Plymouth, Michigan. I spoke French every day on the job and traveled to Paris and Normandy several times a year on business.

Little did I know, my husband would end up being from Germany. After we married, I relocated with him to Konstanz, in southern Germany. I spent my first year in Germany learning the language. One of my main interests at Alma while pursuing my business degree was in advertising. Never having the opportunity to work in an advertising agency in the USA, I seized the chance when I received a job offer here in Germany to be a project manager at an advertising agency.

After three years in advertising, I took advantage of Germany’s wonderful social structure by taking a parent-leave from my job at the agency of three years per child for each of my three children. During this time, I started my own business of beeswax candle making. I pour each candle by hand into reusable containers such as Moroccan tea glasses, sake cups and recycled wine bottles. My children are now 6, 9 and 11 and I am grateful to have the opportunity to pursue my dream of running my own business while at the same time being at home to care for my children.

My Alma education

showed me the world, literally. Simply due to geography and the size of the USA, it is easy for many Americans to not look beyond those huge borders. But Alma made those borders disappear through the many international opportunities available: international case studies in my business classes, not only the study of the French language but also of the French culture, and of my study-abroad my junior year. Alma was not only an address where I lived for four years, it became my home. This feeling of closeness and community which are special to Alma gave me the confidence to try things I perhaps would not have tempted at another college: the swim team, sorority life, international business club…

My favorite place(s) on campus included

Bruske Hall, Joe’s Place, the pool at Hogan Center and the library.

My favorite professors(s) included

Dr. Palmer, Professor Julie Arnold and Professor Greg Baleja.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

Oh gosh, that’s a hard one. My whole Alma experience is still so vivid, even 22 years later! I couldn’t possible pick just one memory. I remember seeing a cadaver for the first time and then writing about my feelings in a creative writing class with Dr. Palmer. I remember getting stranded in a storm on Manitou Island during a spring term psychology class (animal social behavior) where we were studying the sea gulls. I remember late night runs to the Petticoat Junction for gravy fries and many emergency deliveries of Pizza Sam’s with ranch dressing on the side. I remember swimming thousands and thousands of yards in Florida during winter training with the swim team. I remember building the best sandwiches at the sandwich bar at Hamilton Commons. I remember great weekend parties and fun get-togethers with my sorority sisters. I remember wearing a suit for the first time and doing a presentation on Germany for my International Management class. I remember my first job interviews in Chicago during the Alumni trip… and I remember meeting the most wonderful people my freshman year who I still count as friends today.

My off-campus study experience(s) included

one semester of my junior year in Paris at the Alliance Française. My girlfriend from Alma, Jane Mitchell Frauenheim, and I lived in a suburb of Paris with a wonderful French family. I formed such a bond with my host family that my French parents even visited my family in the USA. From the moment I stepped off of the plane, I was immersed into the French culture. I remember thinking how fun it was that the language I had put so much time and effort into learning actually worked in real life, and not just in the classroom. We spent our first couple of weeks in Paris trying to see and do everything out of excitement. What a wonderful realization to slow down and discover that this was “my” city and to have the opportunity to discover Paris as a local and not through the eyes of a tourist. I drove my parents crazy, as I believe I had them change my return ticket three times to prolong my stay. During the month of August, I worked as the director of the Alma College Paris program and helped the students attending classes in Paris via Alma settle in to a new country and culture, an experience that strengthened not only my language skills but also my communication skills on a whole. Today when I am in Paris with my family, it really does feel like home. Thanks to Alma, Paris became a true part of me.