My name is Kylie Hofmeister and I am doing a semester exchange in Strasbourg, France! I have always loved traveling and learning about cultures different than mine, and have been dreaming about studying abroad since high school. I can’t believe I am finally here, it feels surreal! I’ve been here for about two full weeks now and had orientation last week. It’s been a whirlwind! Today is actually my first day of class at EM Strasbourg Business School, so I am feeling quite excited and interested in seeing how my courses here compare and contrast with those I have taken at Mays.
Arriving in Strasbourg went smoothly, even with the pandemic and restrictions associated with it. Here in France, we are required to wear masks at all times while indoors and on public transportation and must receive a “health pass” from the French government in order to patronize most businesses and restaurants, which shows either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. Otherwise, Strasbourg has felt quite open and welcoming, and I’m glad that I didn’t allow the conditions of the pandemic to inhibit me from taking this opportunity to study abroad! It has been great so far, although I definitely experienced some culture shock during my first few days. I don’t speak French, and while many in Strasbourg know some English, the French are very proud of their language and aren’t quick to use English. It was difficult to do small things at first, such as ordering a coffee or checking out at the grocery store, but already in the past two weeks, I’ve been able to pick up simple phrases that have helped me get around! The language barrier was overwhelming and stressful at first, but I have now grown to embrace it and am excited to see myself learn and improve in my French over the semester! I have already enjoyed immersing myself in French culture through trying different foods, practicing the language, and familiarizing myself with the history of Strasbourg. The school also offers many different sports that we can sign up for weekly, and I have already taken two that have been taught entirely in French! I was able to follow along visually, and actually found the challenge to be quite fun!
The international advisors and Dean of EM were very excited to welcome us at our first orientation meeting, and it helped everyone to feel more comfortable and better prepared to begin the semester. Each course here occurs just once a week but lasts three hours, which may take some getting used to. Something that feels different about France and Europe in general is the degree of emphasis on exchange programs and immersing yourself in other cultures. Many international students whom I’ve met can speak 3+ languages almost fluently and are highly encouraged, if not required, to do Erasmus, which is an exchange within the EU. While I was required to take 2 years of a foreign language in high school, I wish schools in the U.S. would require much more. It also just isn’t very common among my friends back home to participate in a semester-long exchange, and I wish that it would be more normalized and pushed back home. Regardless, I am so thankful that I have been given this opportunity through TAMU, and I think that the courses will be great! I am very excited to learn and grow an international perspective and in conducting business throughout the semester. Not only will I learn about my host culture, but also so many others through the other international students that I meet! I can’t wait to share more about my adventures, experiences, and courses in France. Until then, Au Revoir!
(enjoy these photos of beautiful Strasbourg!)