Flying into Nice, France, and seeing the beautiful blue waters and grand mountains of the French Riviera was incredible, to say the least. I was welcomed to the city with friendly faces and warm weather. My first time at my new business school was for the orientation day, where I met tons of new people from all around the world and listened to all the opportunities the school has to offer. To describe the global business program: it is one that is filled with great professors and an expansive network of alumni from across the world. The course descriptions are similar to those at Mays Business School, but the structure differs with some courses not beginning until mid-October. As for the cultural differences, people here take their time to enjoy the little things, such as taking a leisurely stroll on the Promenade des Anglaise or continuing to chat long after they finish a meal at a restaurant. People here really respect the quality of time with others, unlike in America where we are constantly on the go. The change of pace here has some getting used to but I know it will be worthwhile. I hope to learn French, international business dynamics, and make long-lasting global friendships while here. I can’t wait to report back at the end of my trip to see how much I have grown from this experience.
As I reach the end of my time in Nice, it is time to reflect on what I have learned and how I have grown. When I first arrived in Nice, I was completely alone and wondering if I had made the right choice. Now, five months later, I have had the experience of a lifetime and learned so much.
EDHEC Business School was quite different than Mays. The three-hour-long classes were rough but allowed many long weekends to travel. The grades were based only on a midterm and final exam, mostly a 30/70 split. I was lucky enough to have at least one fellow exchange student in every course, as the French students are indeed difficult to get to know. The classes there were high-level, and I really enjoyed the electives, which were taught by professors with incredible real-world experience and unique teaching styles. I will miss the campus itself. Many of the classrooms and the various decks had views of the ocean and the private planes at the airport. It was easy to start planning my walk to the beach when I was two hours into a derivatives class.
My favorite part of the exchange was all the people I got to meet. I was the only American in the M1 program, so I was truly out of my comfort zone. I met people from places I never thought I would and loved learning about how their cultures and all their languages. I also got to live with people from England and The Netherlands and see the differences in how they live. I especially enjoyed the authentic Stroopwafels my roommate’s family brought.
I was able to travel to five countries during my time in Monaco. My favorite was Portugal, and I spent the most time in Switzerland with four trips. I was also incredibly lucky to attend some of the world’s most iconic events. I went to the Cannes Film Festival and saw celebrities walk the red carpet. I also extended my trip to go to the Monaco Grand Prix, something I never thought I would do.
Although there is much to see in all of Europe, I feel that Nice is one of the best cities for a long stay. The weather there is great, with a milder winter I especially appreciated and much cooler summers than Texas. The Côte d’Azur is truly beautiful, and I grew to love Nice’s rock beaches. There are sand ones nearby though if you can’t get used to it. There is so much to see in a close radius as well. I took trains to Cannes, Antibes, Marseilles, Monaco, and many more places. You can even take an hour-long train to Ventimiglia, Italy. Nice also offers a direct bus to three different ski resorts for a mere six euros each way. I made four different day trips out to Isola 2000 in my time there.
My time in Nice taught me a lot. I had to deal with many challenges there such as the language barrier, opening a bank account, and luggage lost for five days that was only saved by a French-speaking friend. It is a time I wouldn’t change for anything, and I hope to return soon.
As I am writing this, I can not believe this experience is over. If people had asked me if I would do it all over again, I would simply say yes. Last semester I had the opportunity to come to Cergy, and I loved it so much that I decided to do it again for the second time. Fair enough, Cergy isn’t the prettiest city but it is very cozy, and you do have Paris 35 minutes away. Having the chance to relive the experience in the same place allowed me to learn more things about the city. If you have the opportunity to live in Paris do it. The commute isn’t too bad, and there isn’t much to do in Cergy, so if you can find an apartment in Paris do it. If not, you will love Cergy, there will always be something going on within the residences. Living at a residence allowed me to build a great group of friends. Friends that have become like family, friends who you get to travel with.
At first, I thought, this would be like a normal school year, go to school make new friends and maybe get to know Paris a little bit more. However, this year not only did Paris become my home, but my friends also became my family, and I adopted some of the French cultures into my daily life. This experience completely changes my outlook on friendships, because the bonds that you form during this time are completely different from the friends back home. These friends become your family, your support system for six months. I truly believe you find your best friends here. When I came here, I thought it was going to be very difficult to adapt to a new culture. But being able to be part of Paris and its culture has made this experience 100% better. Know every time I’m able to have a conversation in French with a Parisienne I stop feeling like a tourist and feel like I belong here.
Even though I am going to miss Paris a lot, it does not compare to how much I am going to miss ESSEC. I thought I would never say that I will miss a school, but ESSEC and its students have won me over. The way that classes are taught at ESSEC allows you to see how life would be outside of school, it has introduced me to the finance world in a different way and has pushed me to challenge myself and see what I want to do when I graduate. The professors are very direct and will tell you what you need to hear to better yourself. It might be hard at first, but trust me you will learn plenty from them.
I truly don’t want this experience to end. I have grown and learned so much from it that it will be very hard to say goodbye. But I know that I will come back, meeting all these people from all over the world has opened up so many opportunities. Know I have friends that I can go visit around the world, and now it will be their chance to show me more about their cultures.
No matter what, this year has been one of the most amazing years of my life. And I will truly recommend ESSEC to anyone who not only wants to learn more about the French culture but also who wants to immerse themselves in a very diverse and fun community.
When I left for France, I didn’t have much of an idea of what my study abroad would entail. I figured I would have fun, travel and meet new people, but I had no idea how much this experience would have changed me. The amount of confidence and independence I have gained was something I don’t think I would have gained if I didn’t take the chance and study abroad. I was able to meet new people who were vastly different from me and travel with them, or even traveling solo. All these things gave me confidence and experience in planning, putting myself out there, and just overall confidence in myself.
Furthermore, my understanding of France and its culture had altered as well. I thought many people would be the stereotypical French, standoffish and rude. While the standoffish part was correct, as many French students didn’t put themselves out there to introduce themselves in classrooms, the rudeness factor was completely wrong. Even in simple encounters in stores, most were always kind and willing to speak some English when I was having trouble speaking French. Although some Parisians did live up to my initial judgments.
One of the things I was most happy about was my location in France, Strasbourg. It was the perfect mix of history and culture, and still had a city scene. In addition, the architecture and it being considered one of the European capitals, I never got bored of exploring it and learning all that I could. With its large cathedral that can be seen from miles away, everytime I came back from traveling, I’d see it in the distance and knew I was home. I didn’t experience much of a culture shock when I arrived, and I think it was because Strasbourg didn’t overwhelm me. It was a sweet city that wasn’t dangerous or a really big city. The people were kind and it was easy to get into a routine and become comfortable with the area.
My study abroad might have started off on the wrong foot, but it quickly became my favorite college experience, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I truly had the most amazing time living and studying in Strasbourg France. Now that my time is over there I have started to digest and reflect on my time abroad! The cultural lifestyle has definitely impacted me. I feel less stress in terms of rushing to complete my life goals and feel like I have had so many more opportunities for me to explore, especially abroad. I have even considered moving abroad for work, which is a thought I had before going but now I see as a real possibility. Through my French class and day-to-day living, I really have an understanding of how business is conducted here and how they work day to day. All of my professors were french and more often than not we would get to class at the same time, if not them after me. You are considered on time when the class time starts so no worry to get there way before the start time, (but also don’t show up more than 5 minutes late). In restaurants, there were many times when we stayed past closing and I had to wave down the waiter to pay and go home.
I feel like my biggest learning adjustment was all of the travel I did abroad. Traveling by train was totally new to me and felt foreign for the first few months. But thankfully the train always showed up and once aboard it was so peaceful. Everyone is always very respectful and tends to themselves during the ride. I really benefited from public transportation and miss it now that I am back in the states.
While abroad I was able to visit 13 countries and countless cities. My eyes are truly opened to the world around me and I have a new appreciation for cultures I did not know before. One of the largest impacts of my trip was the food. Trying new and traditional foods was so much fun and really made up a lot of my travels. I feel encouraged to try new things and look more into other cultures. Another thing I learned was how enforced the EU mindset is among EU countries. Students are highly encouraged to go abroad and learned that in most friend groups everyone studies abroad. I definitely have encouraged my friends back home to consider it if they have the chance to!
It is crazy to think that part of me already misses living abroad and being surrounded by a language I only somewhat speak. I feel that studying abroad was a healthy challenge that pushed me to be more independent, creative, and resilient. I was definitely tired a lot of the time but in the moments in between I was experiencing once-in-a-lifetime adventures. I am so thankful to have gone on this semester abroad and encourage others to do the same!
I cannot believe my semester in France is already coming to an end! The last 4 months have been packed with so many amazing adventures and I have absolutely loved it! My schedule this semester gave me a lot of free time for traveling and enjoying the cultural things within Strasbourg like visiting museums, going to French movies and seeing concerts! One of the many things I loved about living in France is their encouragement of young people to develop themselves by learning more about the country’s culture. They do this by giving lots of student discounts and allowing students to get in free museums all over France. This is one of the many ways that France works to protect their culture from other influences and it is something that I really respect about the country. I also took a French Culture class at EM and it was so helpful in understanding some cultural things that I was not aware of which helped me navigate some culture shock that I experienced throughout the semester. Also, I even became friends with the receptionist at my residence who helped me practice my French! Overall, I really enjoyed the lifestyle in Strasbourg. Some things I liked doing were walking around the canals that surrounded the city, reading in cafes or at the Parc de l’Orangerie, and going to a language cafe and meeting other international students. There was always a nice atmosphere and plenty to do and enjoy around the city.
My classes at EM were also really interesting and I enjoyed having the opportunity to work on projects with people from all over the world. EM Strasbourg is big on group projects so I had one in every one of my classes. I also really liked how all my professors placed a lot of emphasis on applying the information we learned by doing workshops. There really was not much actual school work besides a midterm assignment and the final exam, so I had to really make sure I kept up with the material. But, it allowed me to have a little more relaxed schedule and not feel stressed about deadlines all the time.
Looking back at the beginning of my exchange, it was really hard in the beginning with culture shock and being far away from my family and friends back home. But, I am so glad I decided to come to France for a semester because it challenged me in so many ways and it gave me an opportunity to meet so many new people and visit so many new places! I learned so much about myself throughout the semester and I plan to incorporate these things into my everyday life back at home. For instance, I learned how to be more spontaneous and open to new experiences because that is where you have the best moments and make the best memories! I also learned to enjoy the little moments of everyday life, like strolling through a park or just sitting on a bench reading and enjoying beautiful weather. Daily life was definitely not as hectic as it is back home since I was not in class as often and didn’t have as much school work. So, it was a nice change in pace and allowed me to really take in and enjoy the culture. Overall, my semester in France was absolutely amazing and it has definitely helped me develop a more global mindset which will be helpful wherever I go!
Throughout my semester abroad, I felt that I really got a feel for the French lifestyle and how the culture differs from that of the US from a business stand point. It was really interesting being able to engage with so many different individuals from all over the world. My classes at EM Strasbourg were filled with all international students, which made for a really fun class atmosphere. Each individual truly brought something unique to the table that I never would have gotten the chance to experience at home in the States. For example, in my Business Negotiations class, we were put in groups to simulate a negotiation between a seller and a buyer of a certain good or service, and the individuality of each group member being from a different country and culture made for a very insightful look into what it really means to have a global mindset, especially in a business setting.
I adored living in Strasbourg, especially once spring time rolled around. All of the trees were in bloom with absolutely beautiful pink, yellow, and purple flowers surrounding the river banks that ran around the city center. It seemed that once the sun came out, so did the people. During the winter months of January, February, and even into March, the skies were pretty grey every day, nobody wanted to be outside, and the ambiance in general could be a bit gloomy because of it. However, when the weather warmed up and everything started blooming, the entire city got a whole new feeling to it, which was absolutely delightful. The streets were always busy and everyday you’d pass at least 10 people sunbathing in the grass along the river.
I’d say my initial impressions of French people and French culture were generally pretty accurate. They remained pretty closed off and impersonal to strangers, but I definitely got used to it as time went on. The more time I spent in France, the more I was able to appreciate and develop an affinity for the private lifestyle of French people, and overall, the European lifestyle.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t change a thing about my abroad experience! There were challenging times for sure, but immersing myself in a foreign country and accepting the culture as my own has taught me so much and has truly broadened my world view. I’d recommend Strasbourg to any student looking for an immersive exchange experience!
Almost everyone has heard the trope about finding yourself abroad. The truth is that the cliche comes from some truth. It is amazing to see how much your life can change at this age in a span of months. I’ve made lifelong friendships with people around the world who I still talk to on a regular basis, had a friend visit from Canada, landed my dream job, and my roommate became my best friend–all as a result of my semester abroad. All of which have been incredibly exciting. None, however, have been more revealing than two major lessons:
Fulfillment comes from relationships.
Seeing the world through the lens and experiences of others will be transformative in becoming a more well-rounded person.
For starters, I was nervous about studying abroad because I was afraid of being alone. Being surrounded by incredible friends was the single determinant to making the experience manageable and enjoyable. Having a network of support was so important that I urge anyone to make it a priority. It can be hard, but opening yourself up to opportunity means you may find that network in the most surprising places.
The bureaucratic experience of studying abroad is hard. I won’t lie. From course approval to opening a bank account in France, there seems like there are countless hoops to jump through. It may feel incredibly frustrating in the moment. The biggest advice I can give in these moments is to exercise empathy. The person on the other side of that French bank desk or school administrator does not know the long road you have taken to get here and we should not expect them to. After all, they have their own challenges to go through (like dealing with the back-end of exchange students or University bureaucracy). Taking this approach will allow you to focus on and internalize the good and lessons, rather than cutting the learning short because of something as futile as frustration.
Overall, the lessons of my study abroad extended beyond the beautiful scenery and language. They are ones that I will continue to exercise in every dimension of my life moving forward. They also made me prioritize travel … travel is really fun. 🙂
Howdy Aggies!!! I am back!!! After coming last semester to Cergy I decided to stay for one more!!! With that being said can you believe that school in France starts until March 7!! I had almost three whole months of winter vacation! Now that I am back I can say that Cergy is different in March than what it was a couple of months! Cherry blossoms are blooming and it looks like spring but still feels like winter!
One thing about going a whole year abroad is that now you don’t have the anticipation of meeting new people because now you have the advantage of knowing a couple of people and you definitely know the place. It’s amazing what you can do when you feel already comfortable in a strange place. I mean now I can tell the new coming exchange students what to do and give them advice. Also what I really love about ESSEC is that they have a lot of events that allow exchange students to get to know each other, and also just a reminder that before you come, if you don’t have WhatsApp, download it. This app is the main source of communication with the students from here.
Even though Cergy grew on me and is a great way to start your abroad experience, I have decided that this semester I will be living in Paris. The commute from Paris to Cergy is not that bad, it’s only 30 minutes to take the RER. The only reason why you will really have to think about moving to Paris is that in Paris strikes happen almost regularly which can disrupt the metro lines, so this is why many people decide to stay in Cergy. However, I decided to move to Paris because I had the opportunity to put all of my classes Monday to Wednesdays, so now that I have Thursdays and Fridays off I could spend more time getting to know Paris.
Anyways, let me know if you guys have more questions about ESSEC and Cergy!!!
I’ll let you know how this semester turns out in a couple of months.
I arrived in Strasbourg a few weeks ago and I have to say it truly felt like a culture shock. The first day of travel was as I anticipated with multiple delays and long rides, but what I didn’t expect was for one of my checked bags to go missing for over a week. Luckily my second luggage with my bedding, toiletries, and a few sweaters arrived. I was also thankful that a French student picked me up from the train station and showed me how to use the tram and bus stations since I live pretty far from the school and inner city. Even though traveling was a hassle, the next day after orientation, I got to explore the city on my own and the entire time I was in awe. Strasbourg’s Grande Ile, which is the main city and includes le Petite France, is small so it was easy to explore. The Germanic architecture mixed with French life was a truly unique experience, and it was then I knew I would love my study abroad.
I will admit it took me a while to get used to the French classes, with all of them being at least three hours long. Sitting through those can be boring, even with the short breaks, but I usually only have each class once or every other week. Although, every week my schedule changes, with different rooms or some classes end even in early March or April. Typically I have classes only 2 days a week which is a really nice change, and it gives me a lot of time to travel, participate in sports, and just wander around the city with friends.
One of the things I had to get used to is not being able to understand what most people are saying since I know very little French. I’m able to read it for the most part, but at shops and talking with students I only speak very broken French. But the wonderful thing about Strasbourg is that everyone I’ve talked to has been understanding and kind, they try to help me in any way they can.
But one of my favorite parts has been the food here! Surprisingly the meals at the university are cheap and of good quality. I was even able to try duck for the first time on campus. Then there’s the sweets they bake, where it doesn’t taste sugary, only natural sweetness like fruits. And of course, being in France I have to get baguettes from the bakery every week, it’s probably the French way thing I can do, but it feels really normal to do so.
Overall, Strasbourg was difficult to adjust to, but I’m so excited that I did it. It isn’t like I expected at all, especially with the new wave of Covid mandates, but every day feels like an adventure, even if I’m just going to class or shopping. I can’t wait for what the next three months have in store for me!