How it Began
I was in 8th grade sitting in a French class that I was forced to take thinking “Why am I in here?” As the class progressed and as I learned more and more about France and its culture, I knew right away that France would be the first place on my list to visit. Even though I took Spanish when I started high school I kept France in the back of my mind and knew that was going to be the place I would spend a semester when I got to college. After a long, but doable process of applying to study abroad, attending the interview, sessions and meetings, I was finally in Lyon, France, in Spring of 2007. Lyon is the second largest city in France. Even though Paris is amazing and PARIS, I found Lyon to be much more beautiful in a natural way and fell in love with it as soon as I got there.
I stayed in an International House with a German roommate that I specifically requested. I thought my experience would be much more interesting if I stayed with an international student and I was absolutely right. Not only did we both have to get accustomed to the French and their culture, we also had to learn about each other and ways to get along perfectly. I was absolutely right. I made a lifelong friend and now I have a reason to go visit Germany the first chance I get.
My university was a thirty minute walking distance from my residence. Public transportation is available from any location. You can take the bus, metro or tram and you can be anywhere within fifteen minutes. My classes were held once a week with only one grade and that is the final exam. This worked out for all of us perfectly because it was very flexible with all the traveling we wanted to get done. I went to class on Mondays and Tuesdays and had the rest of the week to travel and explore. We also had two breaks, February break, which was ten days long, and a spring break, which was two weeks long. My classes were all in English and easy to follow. The classes were pretty small so it was a great opportunity to meet the rest of the students. Also, meeting and communicating with the professors is a great way to network, especially if you can see yourself working or interning abroad.
When I was in France, it was very easy to travel. Europe is comparatively small, so it’s very easy and cheap to get from one country to another. Planes and trains were the most efficient way to get around. Plane tickets ranged from 30-80 Euros roundtrip. Even though I wanted to see everything there was to see, I really wanted to spend my time getting to know France since I was already there. So all my traveling was done in France. I went to Paris, Nice, Marseille, Monaco, Grenoble and at the end of my trip I went to a small island called Porquellos on the Mediterranean. All my trips were very cheap. The best way to get around France is by train; they have a very fast train system called TGV. It will get you anywhere at any time.
Overall, my experience was amazing and one that I will never forget. So many thoughts were going through my mind before I finally sat on the plane. However, when you get there you see and realize that you are not in it alone, no matter how much you thought you were. You meet people from all over the world and they are going through the exact same thing you are, they are just as clueless as you are. I didn’t speak any French and I was still able to survive. In fact, I think it made my experience even more fun and entertaining.
So, the most important thing is to stay positive and just have fun with it. What is the worst thing that could really happen? I came back knowing basic French language and everyday life in France, made lifelong friends from all over the world, got an opportunity to study business from an international perspective, tried the most amazing and weird food, saw and explored numerous places that people only dream to see and most importantly learned so much about myself.
Why wouldn’t anyone want to do it?