Reciprocal Exchanges Blog - Part 3

This is Ngoc Huynh, Class of ’23, and a Management-HRM Major with a Minor in Psychology. I am writing this about halfway through my Exchange in Copenhagen, Denmark (DK). I am attending Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and taking 12 credit hours over here. I believe I have finally made it over the honeymoon period because I am finally experiencing some homesickness. I am not really missing my family—luckily, my mom calls me every other night, my sibling group chat is still going hard, and my friends are staying in contact. Because there is a 7-hour gap, my mom calls while she is picking up the kids (3:00 PM) while I am preparing for bed (10:00 PM). In general, I love telling everyone that I am keeping in contact with that “I am in the future.” The one thing I am really missing is food. I miss my mom’s kitchen and the vastness of the American grocery store. I find it hilarious that Denmark’s grocery stores have aisles for “Tex-Mex” (their idea of what Tex-Mex is) and Asian food. Everything else is pretty Danish. Sadly, this wiki link perfectly explains why the grocery and food options are the way they are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_cuisine. I only say “sadly” because you should not really be able to fit a majority of one’s cultural food in 1 Wikipedia page. Other than that, I am still having fun.

A large factor in this is the fact that I have taken 2/4 of my exams! Honestly, the 2 examination periods were interesting. Because your grade at CBS depends on your exam grade, you do not get homework, projects, reports, or anything. You just have your lectures, readings, and supplement materials. Though that does give you more time, personally, I hate that. I hate that my entire semester is based on 1 thing. Luckily, I knew that before coming, but still. I would rather have 2-3 exams along with homework and participation grades than just 1 exam. I am not a gambler or an information regurgitator so that just made me a little sad. Anyways, I had a 72-hour take-home exam and an oral exam based on a written report. The take-home exam was honestly very reminiscent of a final project. I had all my notes, textbooks, videos, etc. to reference, so it was not too crazy. It was stressful, but not impossible. The oral exam, however, was different. This was literally an “if-you-know-you-know” type of thing, so that was nerve-racking. Either way, for May Business School (I am not going to speak for Texas A&M overall), you just need a 4 (basically a D) for the credit to be transferable. HOWEVER, there is a weird gap. For some reason, for CBS, a 02 (basically an E) is the lowest passing grade, so if you get that, you are not eligible for their retake exam and that credit is not transferable. The only thing you can do is submit a grade complaint to make it lowered to a 00 and do the retake. But, per usual, retakes are usually more insane than the original, so try to avoid that—I know I am. It would also be annoying if your retake date is after the Exchange because that means you would have to be very conscious of the time and date since you will be taking it based on Denmark time in the United States. Also, CBS is very kind, so you have a whole portal dedicated to your exams.

(Literally, the exam portal. It is very easy to use, so don’t worry.)

On a lighter note, I have more time for myself. To celebrate my freedom, I went on a trip to Malmö, Sweden with my roommate (Tiffany) and her friends. Denmark and Sweden are so close to each other that it just takes 30 minutes to get there by train. Also, I would recommend going because it is very common for Danes to take trips there and it is less expensive than Copenhagen. All of this is within walking distance, so you do not have to deal with transportation other than going on the train to and back from Malmo. Overall, we all had a great time. Here is the itinerary; Tiffany literally found a blog and we based our trip on that:

  • 09:25 Arrival
  • 09:30 Breakfast: Lilla Kafferosteriet
  • 10:30 St. Peter’s Church (Free)
  • 11:00 City Hall (Free)
  • 11:15 Form Design Museum (Free)
  • 12:30 Moderna Museet Malmö (Free)
  • 13:00 Disgusting Food Museum (160 SEK)
  • 14:30 Lunch: Jensen’s Bøfhus
  • 15:45 City Library (Free)
  • 16:45 Malmö Castle (20 SEK)
  • 18:15 Turning Torso (Uhhh, you can only look at it and not enter. This is a residential area, but Free)
  • 18:45 Skatepark (Free)
  • 19:15 Dinner: Max Burger
  • 20:30 Departure

We did not visit turning Torso and the Skatepark, but it is something that is possible. We got really tired and hungry after the Malmö Castle—which is not just a castle. It is essentially a museum with multiple exhibitions within a castle.

(Me on a train in Copenhagen Central Station/København H waiting to depart.)

(Random place we found when we were walking on a bridge in Malmö, Sweden)

(Me in St. Peter’s Church in the children’s area.)

Anyways, by now, I only have about 2 months and 2 exams left of this Exchange. Time has gone by quickly, but it was kind of anticlimactic. I was expecting to be like Selena Gomez in her movie, Monte Carlo—somehow find a cute guy, fall in love, dramatically leave each other, and then unite. However, in all fairness, I have literally been trying to go for the past 2 years and I live humbly in comparison to my peers. Hopefully, I will be exploring more of Denmark in the next blog, so I am looking forward to that.

Categories: Denmark

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:

  1. Fulfillment comes from relationships.
  2. 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. 🙂

Good luck!

Categories: France

As my time in Barcelona comes to an end, there is so much to reflect on! Barcelona has been a great experience and I have learned so much. The culture here is so incredibly different and I loved seeing it. When it comes to conducting business and engaging with individuals, it is definitely very different than in the US, particularly in Barcelona there are Catalans who are very proud of their culture and keep it very safe, this is something super important to keep in mind when speaking to others. Remembering that you are in their home, it’s important to try your best to adapt, and not make others adapt to you, try your best to learn as many languages as you can! School here is very different too, for all my classes the only grades were a group presentation and one final exam. It can be stressful since we don’t know what the tests are like, but it also gives you more free time as you aren’t constantly doing homework. This is the library and a very nice area right next to where I live.

Barcelona has everything from the beach to a city that never sleeps. When I first came here I was very overwhelmed and felt like I would never be able to keep up. Now I know where everything is, I know how to get around, and I even see some friends anywhere I go! Barcelona is a great place to make new friends, learn a new culture, and change as a person. I am definitely far more independent now, more confident, and more ready for the ‘real world’ than ever before.

Categories: Spain

Semester Abroad Recap and Final Reflection

Last semester, in the Fall of 2021, I went participated in a reciprocal exchange program with the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in Vienna, Austria. It is a weird feeling to come back to Texas A&M after spending the past four and a half months abroad. For me, it is great to see my family, reconnect with friends and take comfort in the familiarities that I once remembered and longed for. However, my perspective on the world has seemed to change. My time in Europe will always be something that I remember for the rest of my life. Furthermore, the time I spent in Vienna and the experience that I made along the way will have a special place in my heart and will live with me forever.

Last day in Vienna, Austria.

Shared Experiences

One of the best things about going to a new place is meeting new people. At first, I was nervous to go abroad because only one other person from Mays Business School here at Texas A&M was doing the same exchange as I was. However, during the first week, thanks to the buddy program that the university has and the on-campus organizations, I met a really cool group of people right away. During the semester, we went on plenty of weekend trips, parties, and just miscellaneous adventures around the city. I can honestly say that the people you meet along the way make the adventure that much more fun. Reach out and make friends with someone new. You never know what will happen.

My friends and I standing on Tower Bridge in London, England.

Me, Ryan, and Joey enjoying the night scene in London.

Having a great time exploring the beautiful city of Budapest!

Reflection

I have learned a few things from my time in Vienna that I plan to incorporate into my life. Firstly, I plan to be more open to new experiences. You never know where something might lead to or what positive event will come from doing something new. In fact, one of the reasons I came to Vienna in the first place was to get out of my comfort zone. By doing what’s uncomfortable and exploring the unfamiliar, you can truly experience life and expand your way of thinking.

Another thing that I am trying to take back with me to Texas is to enjoy the smaller things more by being more in the moment. So much of your day-to-day is monotonous tasks where you are truly not even present. Being in a foreign country surrounded by a whole new culture has given me the opportunity to observe more. My education at WU wasn’t particularly challenging. My classes were once a week and they were pass/fail. Furthermore, I took classes that I found interesting. Altogether, this gave me ample time to explore the city and to take a lot of trips. By the end of the semester, I had gone to over eleven different countries! At each place, I tried to take some time to really try to be in the moment. It is different than being on a vacation. I did not feel rushed at all to get from one place to another. I had no obligations with school and I felt like I was not tied to the negative aspects of the world. Just then and there. One of the best trips I took was a hike in Interlaken, Switzerland. Interlaken is a small, quiet, alpine sporty town with nothing but good views of the surrounding Swiss Alps. A friend and I took a few trains up the mountain to the small town of Murren to then complete a small 3-hour hike of a trail called The Northface. We stopped multiple times to just take in the view and enjoy the world around us. Here are some pictures from that hike.

Sitting in a field in the middle of a small Swiss town.

Beautiful views while riding on a gondola.

Views while hiking up The Northface trail in Murren.

Gig’ em from Switzerland!

I feel like no one is always completely ready to participate in a semester exchange, or at least, you can never fully anticipate what will happen while you are there. Combined with Covid and Austria implementing relatively strict mandates, I can definitely get a little quiet sometimes. Compared to two-week excursions or small trips, in semester exchanges, you have so much more freedom. If you do not utilize this time, sometimes you may feel lost in what to do or see. For the first two or so months, I traveled to a new place every weekend and always did something new. However, around October, I slowed things down a little. My friends and I started to explore Vienna more and enjoy the local Austrian culture. In December, after going to London, a few of us got Covid, which messed up some plans. I did not have the chance to be able to go to Belgium for Christmas to see some family friends a second time. Even crazier, one of my friends missed his flight!

In the end, though, I wrapped up my semester with my family and girlfriend coming to see me in Austria. They came for around 10 days and spent New Year’s and a little bit of January with me. We traveled from Vienna to Prague and Budapest by train. I am so thankful that they had the chance to come and see me.

My girlfriend, Haeven, and I in front of the Gloriette in Schonbrunn.

My Mom and I enjoying views of Vienna!

My dad and Haeven enjoying a nice Kasekrainer (cheese hotdog of sorts) and a Gosser (my favorite local Austrian beer).

My mom taking in the sights of Salzburg, including the gate from A Sound of Music.

My parents and I enjoying the view from atop the Salzburg Castle.

My mom and Haeven on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

My brother Matthew and my dad and I in front of the House of Parliament in Budapest, Hungary.

Taking in the local attraction of Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest with my girlfriend and family.

Our group enjoying the sights and views of Prague on top of Prague Castle.

This was from my families’ last day in Vienna. Here we are in Belvedere Palace.

Altogether, my time in Vienna has come to an end. I am glad for everyone I had the pleasure of meeting while there and thankful for the experiences I made. I am ready to come back to College Station to finish out my college career. Thank you for reading my blog post!

A beautiful sunset from my first week back in College Station.

Categories: Austria

Hej Once Again!

This is Ngoc Huynh, Class of ’23, and a Management-HRM Major with a Minor in Psychology. I am writing this over a month in Copenhagen, Denmark (DK). I am attending Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and taking 12 credit hours over here. I am finally getting used to it here and I am honestly still loving it. It is literally a fancy version of Texas, however, I will admit, I am not a partygoer in the US—and I am definitely not one here—so my view is probably not like many. My roommate, who is from Hong Kong (HK), along with her peers all find DK boring, but, in all fairness, HK is DEFINITELY one of the faster-paced countries due to their competitive work-life, food hubs, and never-ending commute. For this blog, I am just writing to update on what’s going on with my life. No one really goes to DK from Texas A&M, so there is really not much to go from.

Anyways, my housing location (Svanejev—located in Nørrebro), takes about 40 minutes to walk from the campus. At first, I was dissatisfied with how far away I was from the other students, but I am kind of grateful for it. Nørrebro is where the “normal” people live and I love that I can actually see a snapshot of how Danish people actually live. There is literally a school in front and to the side, businesses all over, and grocery stores nearby. I love how easy it is to buy groceries; the closest store (REMA 1000) is 3 minutes away and down the street-ish is Fotex and Netto. There are also local businesses that sell fruits, vegetables, and knick-knacks. You can literally say, “Honey, I am going to get some milk. Be back in 5.” Interestingly enough, because DK has a focus on sustainability, you cannot buy in bulk and there is not a lot of variety. In the US, I go shopping every 2 weeks, but here, I have to go weekly because my food will actually go bad and I have limited fridge space. I am slightly better than most in expense and waste-wise because I meal-prep. Once again, I really recommend honing your cooking skills because eating out is very expensive. I do not know what’s going on, but what I spend for a week’s worth of groceries (~125 DK) is about 1 meal (~100 DK). If that is not ridiculous, I do not know what is. Also, just in case, I do buy random snacks, drinks, and knick-knacks as well. I already have a few favorite bakeries, and I am not starving. Shout out to Krumme & Co. (great Romkuglers), Andersen & Maillard (great Expresso Croissant), and Favori Baklavaci (everything is great)—the owner is a kind older gentleman, and the desserts are divine. I enjoy their walnut baklavas and chocolate cakes.

(A meal at Shake Down near CBS, however, I will admit that it was actually expensive, and I will only go if there is a deal—I’m sorry that I am not sorry.)

But, moving on, by now, I have finally established a schedule for myself—commuting, studying, meal-prepping, me time, etc. Commuting to school is honestly wild, but I can only become stronger and grow from it. I am sadly too short for the bikes at Swapfiets, a business collaborating with CBS that rent out bikes, so I cannot ride. I am also very stubborn and refuse to pay for the Metro, so I walk. The costs add up (140 DK per week) and I could honestly use that money for something else. Luckily, it is very therapeutic, and it wakes me up for my 8AMs. This is my cardio—period. Anyways, at CBS, almost every week has a different schedule. It changes a bit—be it room, class time, or format, and it is kind out of sudden. The professors are typically not even aware of the changes, so I recommend checking daily. I have had 3 incidents where something at the last second got changed. In addition to that, there are certain courses that start and end at different times. My roommate, who is taking the same number of courses as me, goes to campus literally twice a week and I go from Monday to Friday. Then, 2/4 of my courses are ending this month, while her exams are more concentrated in May. Your grade is dependent on that 1 exam, so there is pressure to it. There are pros and cons, but I am just grateful that I will have more time to explore DK after that. In all honesty, I believe if you do what you are supposed to do, you will be fine. This is a semester exchange—not a trip. Calm down. Please go to school, but do not take yourself so seriously as this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

(Please notice how the trees are purposefully trimmed bald. If you took HORT 201 with Professor David Reed, this is a throwback.)

Basically, right now, I am just fighting for my life with school. I am basically taking 2 summer courses with 2 normal Spring courses. I am still enjoying DK, but I believe I am still in the honeymoon phase. I literally go check out a bakery every week to try something new, cook whatever I want, go to school, and keep in contact with my family. However, it has been interesting to hear the different experiences my peers have been experiencing. For example, because DK is small and quite homogenous (93.7% White), they are not used to Asians. As an Asian myself, personally, I have not experienced anything crazy. They, on the other hand, have been assumed to come from Wuhan even though they are Singaporean. In all fairness, I look like I bite, and I do carry self-defense weapons on my body. But sadly, when you are Asian and if you are not in Asia, you are a minority and that is just the reality of the situation. On a lighter note, the days are being longer, warmer, and less windy, so I am looking forward to that.

Categories: Denmark

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.

Categories: France

The train from Munich crossed over the Vlatava River at 8pm, and I thought to myself “Wow, this isn’t just a dream anymore.” After months of preparation, stress over visa application, and still not knowing what to expect, I am here, in Prague!

I have been in Prague for a week, and I am surprised at how much of the city I have already seen, like the Prague Castle and the Astronomical Clock. (I learned yesterday that Prague is known as the “City of 100 Spires” … I wonder if I can visit all 100…) The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) has partnered with my host university, VSE, to provide social events, a buddy program, and various discounts for the 200 international students. The social events they provide include touring the main sites of Prague, wine tasting tours in Moravia, brewery tours in Prague, and reserving huge club spaces for international students. My ESN buddy has introduced me to other international students and has shown me parts of the city. The churches, castles, and landmarks are stunning in their architecture and artwork.

My school routine in Prague looks quite different than it did at Texas A&M. The day begins with riding a tram for 20 minutes to the campus. There are four buildings, so it is easy to arrive to class on time. (There is no Wellborn train blocking West Campus lol.) Most of my classes occur once a week for 90 minutes. I have organized my schedule to only have classes Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It is a pretty sweet schedule, and I have already taken a day trip on Tuesday to a nearby village. (For reference, I am taking the class equivalents of SCMT 340, MGMT 439 & 363, and FINC 341.) Like at A&M, my professors are friendly and passionate about their discipline; their excitement makes it easy to be excited to learn. My class sizes have been relatively small, 20-30 students, and are filled with international students. Participating in the ESN events has allowed me to see familiar faces in classes and make friends quickly. I have just finished my first week of classes, and I am still determining how to balance my time between learning in school and learning through travel 🙂

Outside from the university, I have met many people who live in Prague who only speak English. They claim that it is not difficult to only speak English because many Czech people learn English at a young age. The Czech alphabet is Latin based, and after a little study of a few phonetic rules, reading Czech is very doable. With the tram, most places are about 20-30 minutes away from the student housing, and being a university student makes the tickets very cheap.

Besides the expected American and European differences (metric system, different outlets, sparkling water, etc.), here are a few of my personal “culture shock” moments that will be helpful for anyone visiting Europe:

  1. Most coffee shops serve alcohol as well. It is not uncommon to see someone enjoying a beer at a Sunday family brunch.
  2. Eggs are kept in the pantry… this is still difficult for me to comprehend.
  3. Although Czech people are very friendly, do not make eye contact and smile with people on the street. Some of the stories of friendly Americans who have not broken this habit are unnerving.
  4. Not so much a culture shock, but non-native English speakers pronounce Texas as “Tex-sass,” I pronounce it as “Tex-iz.”
  5. People on trams are very talkative. My only experience with public transport is the New York subway and Moscow metro, where it is silent.

Going on an exchange program is a learning process and has been intimidating at times. I have made many mistakes since being here, and from all, I can learn how to avoid the mistake in the future. I was hesitant about leaving my comfortable life in Texas to live somewhere new and foreign, but I am so grateful I took the leap. I’m excited to continue meeting new people, exploring the city, and traveling Europe! Cheers to many more memories to be made, ahoj (“ahoy”)!

Categories: Czech Republic

Ciao!

 

My first few days in Milan have been filled with meeting new people, learning new things, and experiencing different cultures. The first things I noticed upon my arrival to Italy were the buildings. Everything has so much character and it was surreal to walk through the streets that Olive Garden tries to imitate. Milan itself is different than I expected, but not in a bad way. Being up north, the stereotypical rolling hills and small cottages are not present, but instead, Milan is a modern city bustling with people. The Duomo in the center of town is the most beautiful building I have seen, and almost every other building is unique in some way. I haven’t been able to explore much more of Italy yet, but something I’ve appreciated is how easy their public transport system is to use.

I began classes at Bocconi last week and have been very impressed so far. Located close to the center of town, the campus is a mixture of cool old buildings and sleek, modern cylinders. The classrooms are nice, and the professors have done a great job of getting us used to how things are done over here.

From a cultural point of view. Italy is definitely different from the United States in some ways. One of the most obvious ones is that people are more relaxed and less obsessed with profits/work/getting ahead. The other A&M students and I encountered this first hand when we tried to get some food on one of our first days. Our residence is pretty far from the more touristy city center, so when we went walking around looking for food in the middle of the afternoon, every place we passed was closed. After figuring this out, we’ve become much more in tune with the schedules here, but it was definitely a shock!

I’m excited to continue my journey over here and immerse myself deeper into the Italian way of life!

Categories: Italy

As I’m writing this, it marks exactly two weeks since I have been living in Madrid. To say that the past few weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. From the 9 hour flight to encountering countless hurdles trying to get my metro card, I have definitely learned a lot that I would love to share.

The first thing that I noticed when I got here was how beautiful the architecture was. The buildings themselves make you feel like you’re in a movie. I filled up my camera roll within two days (and I have no shame). Just waking up to the view from my apartment felt like a dream. Walking 20,000 steps a day around the city and eating nothing but tapas & coffee for the first week honestly just felt like a vacation. The reality of being here for 5 months didn’t hit until the initial adrenaline wore off.

Now I’m going to go ahead and share some essential things that I wish I knew before moving here:

  1. Make a metro card appointment BEFORE you arrive in Madrid. I had to go to a train station in the middle of nowhere just to get this card.
  2. Don’t even think about eating dinner until 9 pm. Everything here is a lot more laid back and meal timings are all shifted a few hours behind American times so just be prepared for that.
  3. Be willing to put yourself out there even if the situation is unfamiliar. Being a study abroad student is all about growing and learning to adapt to a new environment. If you stick around only what you’re comfortable with, then you won’t see the growth that you’re hoping for.

I’ve only been here for a few weeks and I can’t even express how excited I am for the rest of the semester. Traveling, meeting new people, and learning about business from an international perspective is truly a dream come true. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I intend to make the most of every moment. Stay tuned for my reflection at the end of this (hopefully) incredible journey. 🙂

Categories: Spain

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!

Categories: France