As college students, we can often fall into routines with work, school, friends…with our lives. While routines can be comfortable in their familiarity and organization, a change can often bring much needed awaking, excitement, and challenge. Studying abroad in France shook up my life in a way I would have never imagined.
Everything is different here: the lifestyle, the food, the people, and definitely the school. As far as school goes, while the content of the courses is very similar to that which I studied at UWB, almost everything else is different. The structure of the schedule is as follows: five 4-credit courses, meeting two hours per week, and one 10-credit course, meeting four hours per week. Rather than lectures or seminars, the 4-credit courses tend to be largely consumed by student presentations, or “exposés” as they are called. The attendance policy is a bit strict: miss two classes (for any reason, even medical) and you automatically receive a zero in the course! However, a huge benefit of study abroad is the chance to become quite proficient in a foreign language by studying in that language, with native speakers. Plus, my classes here are filled with foreign students from all over the world, giving me the chance to not just learn about France, but also Germany, China, Switzerland, and many others. I’ve even picked up a few German words since arriving—yaw, oops I mean “Ja!” Ich liebe spätzle.
Studying abroad allows for a state of constant learning and adaptation. That’s maybe what I notice most here in France; just going into the post office is sometimes a challenge, and a learning experience – figuring out how the system works and trying to do it in a different language. In the beginning I was frustrated at how long little tasks would take – like mailing a postcard – but in the end, after miscommunications, and some difficulties, eventually I got the stamp. Sometimes it’s in the grocery store, sometimes it’s at La Poste, and sometimes it’s in the classroom, but when in Paris, new experiences follow almost as closely as the smell of fresh baguette.