After studying abroad, I learned that conducting business in France is quite similar to how it is conducted in the US. It is important to be professional and friendly and address with monsieur or madame. As for setting meetings and communicating, I noticed that the French are usually slower at responding to emails due to their work-life balance. The French prioritize living their lives overworking.
Engaging with other French people can be intimidating but trying to speak their language first is key. I learned that asking in French if people speak English is a good way to start a conversation. In my day to day, I noticed that learning to speak French conversationally will get you further along than only speaking English. The French respect those who take the time to learn the basics.
Engaging in Host Countries
My initial impressions were that the French were standoffish, but I realized you have to approach them first. If you try to speak French first rather than English, the French will be more helpful. Something I noticed is the people in the south of France are much warmer than those in the north. The French in Nice work very hard but also like to relax and prioritize going outside halfway through class for a break. This was something that I really enjoyed and that we don’t do here at A&M. They are also always outside going for walks along the promenade or at the beach, even in December.
Hello, my name is Megan Konvicka and I am a Management Information Systems junior studying abroad in Strasbourg, France for Spring 2023. I chose this exchange program because of its central location, established international program, the moderate city size, and I wanted to get to know the French culture more. My goal in this program is to immerse myself in the French culture, travel to nearby countries when possible, and meet new people from all over the world. I have not really been in Europe before, so travel is high on my priority list and I came into this study exchange prepared to see a lot of differences in the cultures here. This blog is representative of my first month of being in Strasbourg
City: Strasbourg is such a pretty town! The architcture is a beautiful French and German blend and walking the streets of cobblestone is both peaceful and lively. Strasbourg is the second biggest student city in France (Paris being the first) so the environment is super friendly and I have seen students everywhere. Everyone I have met so far has been super nice and I have felt safe walking around town. I love how Strasbourg is the perfect size town: big enough to have things to do but small enough to feel homey and manageable. The tram system is extensive, but easy to understand (make sure to go to the CTS store to get a monthly student tram pass because it makes it so easy to travel the city freely). The first two weeks, I was nervous to ride the public transportation alone, but the tram really is quite safe, and so now I use it alone! The weather here is super cloudy (consider bringing or buying Vitamin D pills to compensate for the lack of Texas sun!) and I believe the weather doesn’t hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit until the end of March, so make sure to pack clothes to bundle up correctly (and bring Vitamin C or other medicine in case you get sick). In terms of food, I’d say the food here is quite bland compared to the United States… and there is nothing spicy! Even the French grocery stores don’t have crushed red pepper and I have searched many, many locations. Additionally, ethnic food is not very flavorful unfortunately so if you love spice, I highly recommend you cook it. I have found that French grocery stores in town are typically small and have limited selections. I take a short tram ride to the neighboring town of Kehl, Germany for groceries at EDEKA and they have a super wide selection of products (including spices and international products), typically at cheaper prices than in France. Make sure to bring your own reusable tote bag to carry your groceries because disposable bags cost money! What can’t be beat in French grocery stores though is their Wine and Cheese selection. The Alsace region Strasbourg is in is known for their white wine and stinky cheeses; I’ve loved trying so many of the different types.
School: At EM Strasbourg, the classes are structured in time blocks of three hours, and the schedule is completely up to the professor. Some classes start your first week of being in France, some start at the end of February! This ambiguity in scheduling means that every week is different… but also, it means that you might not have classes on Mondays or Fridays, giving you long weekends for travel. The first two weeks of being in Strasbourg, I only had one class period. One. So it felt like I was still on Winter Break. Don’t let the three hour time blocks intimidate you… the professors like to give a 15 minute coffee break halfway through! The building of EM Strasbourg is quite modern; each classroom has wonderful large windows and it’s relatively easy to navigate. Also – I cracked up when I found out that there are TWO student bars inside the Business School! You can go and order yourself a drink in between classes and can always find a group of students hanging out there. I was also surprised to see that most of the University Apartments are at least a 15 minute tram ride from the business school; the tram ride is not bad at all and when the weather warms up, I plan to walk to school! The international program at EM scheduled a couple of events in the beginning of the year to introduce us to French culture, which I appreciated. However, there are two international programs at EM (RUN BY STUDENTS) that do an AMAZING job at creating special, organized events for international students. Please go to these events (most of them are free!), as this is the one place, outside of class, where I have met other international students. The names of the student organizations are Bureau de l’International (BDI) and ESN Strasbourg. I have not really met any student yet who full-time goes to EM Strasbourg, I hope that in the future months, I will be able to mingle with the French students. I have noticed I tend to hang out with my fellow Aggies because it’s a touch of home and familiarity, but I’ve been reminding myself to reach out to other international students to hang out as well, since getting to know new people and cultures is a really special part of studying abroad.
Travel: The three hour class periods have allowed for me to schedule in a lot of travel! So far, I’ve traveled pretty equally by train and bus, and more rarely by plane. I know that there are a lot of strikes in France so I’m interested to see how that affects the public transportation. It’s important to check strike schedules to make sure you don’t travel on these days and get stuck somewhere! I spend most of my free time planning trips, typically up to three weeks ahread. Everywhere in Europe is still really cold, it being January, so a lot of locations have few tourists (and little greenery lol). One month into the study exchange and I’ve already gotten sick three times – mostly because of not bundling up correctly and not prioritizing my health while traveling. I’ve learned my lesson! It’s interesting to see other people make travel plans because you quickly learn that everyone likes to travel a little bit differently, whether it be budgets, time spent in one location, or the activities done in the location. Learning how YOU like to travel is part of the experience; try to travel with people who have the same preferences as you! I love how accessible reaching other countries is; I hope I won’t forget to explore the Alsace region around Strasbourg during my time here too (because again, Strasbourg and the cities around it are SO BEAUTIFUL)!
I cannot wait to continue my journey on this semester exchange. I miss my family, friends, and being back home, but admittedly right now, my excitement of being here in Europe and in new environments dilutes that feeling of missing home. I need to remember to call my family more often. I wonder when Strasbourg will start feeling like “home base.” Watch out for my blog later this semester 😉
Hello! My name is Daniela and I am currently studying in Barcelona, Spain. When I initially got to Barcelona, it felt a little overwhelming because it was my first time in Europe and I was in a very different environment. But once my roommate arrived and we explored the city, I felt very happy to be where I was. Barcelona has so many unique and fun sites to explore, the food is very tasty(they have lots of fast food restaurants like McDonald’s if you want to be reminded of home), fun nightlife, and a beach! Communication in Spain has not been very difficult since I speak Spanish, but either way most people speak or know English. I arrived a few days before school started, which I highly recommend because it allowed me to rest after the jet lag and get familiar with the city and transportation services! The first day of school we started with the program’s orientation where every student doing an exchange attended. There were a huge number of students from all over the world! The people presenting seemed genuinely excited to welcome us and wanted us to learn more about their culture. In all, I felt very welcomed and excited to start my program! There are many differences between Spain and the U.S. For example, the food is different, there are usually no dryers to dry your clothes, and to get your groceries to your place is a hassle especially if you don’t live on the first floor or if there isn’t an elevator, there is coffee shops and convenience stores in every corner, and there are people walking or taking public transportation everywhere! It has been an adjustment but I absolutely love everything about Spain. It has been very exciting to go to different ERASMUS(International students) events and meet new people from everywhere. I hope to gain knowledge from studying in a different university, gain new friends, gain business skills, and make memorable memories!
This is my second time abroad and going into this experience I did not know what to expect. I arrived in Strasbourg, France on New Year’s Eve, so it was crazy to experience the last day of 2022 and the first day of 2023 in a new country.
I believe that Strasbourg is the perfect study-abroad city. There is a unique history because of its French and German roots, it has all of the amenities of a big city but still feels calm, and it is centralized in Europe so it is easy to travel.
One of the first places I saw was the cathedral in the city center and it was so beautiful. The architecture is stunning and you can even climb all the way to the top for a gorgeous view of the city. Arriving in January most of the decorations from the Christmas markets was still up and it is so fun to walk through the streets, feeling the Christmas spirit.
The structure of EM Strasbourg is quite different than what I am used to at Texas A&M. Classes vary in start time, and how long the course goes, and are typically three hours long once a week. Grading is also quite different. Grades are decided on two-three factors (exams and a group project), and there is a lot of group work.
So far, I am loving living in Strasbourg and going to EM. There are a few things that I hope to get out of the next four months. I hope to increase my fluency in French and take advantage of living in a country where it is the main language. I hope to travel to as many countries as possible in order to increase my understanding of different foods, cultures, and history. I plan on making friends with the people in my classes who come from all over the world. I look forward to the group projects and a better understanding the French higher education system through my coursework in different classes. I am also hoping to gain a better understanding of myself through living alone for the first time, interacting with people from different backgrounds, and experiencing new things. Overall, I am very excited to see the lessons I will learn and the growth I will experience through being a student at EM Strasbourg.
I have just arrived in Strasbourg, France and will be living here for the next 4 months. Upon arrival, things were different here than they are at home right away. In order to travel around the country, you must take trains, which was a new concept for me. After arriving in Strasbourg, I know I will love my time here as it is a beautiful and lively city. The people of Strasbourg have been kind to me, even when I can’t communicate with them perfectly in French. They are also very eager to help me when I need it.
My international program at the EM Business School has had orientation events for the group this week, for us to meet others from around the world doing a semester exchange. It has been a very unique experience so far getting to meet other students from different countries, who I am more similar to than I would have imagined.
Although the French get stereotyped as being rude to foreigners, I have not felt that in the time I have been here. The culture in the country has been remarkable and I have loved trying local foods, my favorite being the “pain au chocolat.”
One of the biggest differences I have noticed this week is the means of transport in Strasbourg. Biking, walking, and public transport is the most common form of travel for locals and tourists here, which is different from the US as cars are heavily used there. Another difference I have noticed is the laid back culture of the French, the mornings start slow for the people here and evenings are social. This has been different to see compared to the hustle culture I am used to in the US.
This semester, I hope to gain a new sense of independence while I am here as I will be navigating every aspect of living in a foreign country. I would also like to become more open minded to different ways of living in the culture I see here, knowing it is completely different from what I am used to back home. I hope that throughout this semester, I am able to develop new skills and make lasting friendships with those I meet here.