My first class at EM Strasbourg Business School was very different from Mays in some ways but in other ways similar! The building itself is huge and has an open space feel to it, which feels quite different from the Wehner building. The business school is completely detached from the main campus of the University of Strasbourg, which is somewhat similar to Wehner being on west campus at TAMU, but in Strasbourg, the school buildings are built right into the city, so it’s not like you’re on campus the whole time when you’re going from one building to another. As far as the class goes, the lecture felt very familiar. Besides the class being three hours long and only once a week, the class structure and teaching style feels quite similar to home.
The city of Strasbourg is quite unique and the biggest difference I feel is how safe it is. I am staying in university housing which is off-campus and a bit out of the city center, so we are right in the middle of a quaint neighborhood a ways away from downtown, and I really like it. Everyone kind of minds their own business when they are out and about, which I have found comforting. One thing that we learned quickly after arriving is that they take their holidays VERY seriously. We arrived Friday, Dec 31st—New Year’s Eve—and everything was closed, and I mean everything. Everything stayed closed Saturday—New Years Day—and Sunday, in accordance with French law, so it was difficult the first few days not having access to any grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, etc. This has probably been the biggest difference in day-to-day experiences here in Strasbourg compared to back home.
The people we have encountered so far have been generally pretty nice, though they keep conversation pretty short and to the point. In fact, one administrator told all of the exchange students to prepare to “get over the wall” when making friends with French students because they tend to be much more reserved. This is probably the biggest cultural difference compared to the US and even Texas. It’s common in Texas to be met with that southern hospitality that we are so proud of, but in France, it’s unlikely for someone to strike up a conversation with you unless you prompt something yourself.
The first two weeks have been overall good! It definitely felt overwhelming at times, and like a huge shock to your mental and physical state, but I feel as though I’m adjusting well, though it is taking longer to fix my sleep schedule than I would’ve expected. I’m looking forward to the semester getting started and learning more about France during my time here!