It’s been a few months since I returned from my 5 months spent in France. Looking back, it seems strange that spending a mere 5 months in a place could flip my perspective on everything I thought I knew. Every one of my ideals were challenged during my France encounter, whether it was my resolve to abstain from drinking (the abundance of wine and casual day-drinking almost swayed me) to the ease in which native students took their schooling (that one got to me- I could’ve definitely done better grade wise!). From what I could understand, the students in the EU equated their Master’s degrees with our Bachelor’s (which is why Mays students that attend EDHEC are integrated into the Master’s program). What I thought was most interesting about learning business in France was a focus on microfinance. I had only read snippets in articles about microfinance, but it seemed to be a pretty relevant up-and-coming industry in France. As well as this, the science of consumerism and convenience is different than in the States. Grocery stores and patisseries were all closed for the day by 10pm. I lived in a largely residential area and if I didn’t have what I needed, or had midnight cravings, I was out of luck. Considering that only a small majority of the population owned a vehicle, it seemed obvious to me that France considered convenience to be less relevant than other traits.

Being back in the States definitely took a bit of an adjustment period. I had to get used to being behind the wheel of a a car again and driving literally everywhere. Public transportation in France was the main source of transit and oftentimes if there were problems with it, our classes would be essentially empty because most students relied upon the train and multitude of buses.

Classes were honestly, in my personal opinion, more difficult than they were at A&M. All exams and most projects were clustered near the end of the semester, and in most classes the final grade was a mix of a single test weighted at 70% and a project and/or a few quizzes weighted at 30%. Needless to say, the last few weeks of school were EXTREMELY stressful. However, all’s well that ends well I suppose!

There are so many different events that I experienced that pushed me to broaden my horizons and push my limits. Navigating the city on my own, barely speaking the language- it all came with a thrill and a spark of resilience. After all, relentlessly trying to figure out where the milk is in a foreign grocery store where no one speaks English is a lot harder than it seems, and every small victory seemed like a huge one. This is important because not many people talk about the slump that occurs when you study abroad. When grocery shopping and trying to find the train station seem to be the most difficult tasks to complete, it wears down on you. You start to feel a sense of degradation and hopelessness. But soon enough, the small victories will begin to add up. Finding the milk aisle. Getting on the right bus. Memorizing your way around your beautiful city. And you’ll realize that the small victories add up to be worth more than one big victory ever could.

Travelling alone, being completely on my own in a foreign place- it taught me that the only person I truly need is myself. I am enough for me. And if I can handle a whole new country on my own, I can do anything. I don’t mean to sound cliché but I genuinely believe that being in Europe for as long as I was changed me as a person. I have a newfound sense of independence. I have seen so many amazing places and met so many unique people. It truly was the experience of a lifetime. To my little city along the French Riviera, you will forever hold a special place in my heart. Ce n’est pas un au revoir, c’est un “à plus tard” (this is not a goodbye, it’s a “see you later”). I am so grateful to A&M and Mays for allowing me this incredible opportunity.