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Volume 10, Edition 3 November 2010

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My experience on a Summer ISEP program to Savoie University in France

by Lisa Lowe

Lisa watching the Tour de France

When I returned to University last summer after thirty years, I had no idea I would find myself studying in Southern France as part of a Study Abroad program at UNCG.  Studying abroad opened my eyes to a greater sense of a world community. While UNCG has shown me great opportunities to learn about diversity on campus, nothing will compare to the appreciation I now have for humanity in general because of my experiences in Chambéry, France. Day to day living reveals many things in a foreign setting that one cannot learn through books alone, and there were several experiences I never would have pictured myself participating in (especially at 47 years old).

I never thought I would leap 12 meters off a cliff into a roaring rapid, never considered Salsa dancing, never thought I would discuss World War II with an elderly French veteran over coffee, never thought I would climb a mountain, never considered discussing the French perspective of ADHD with a French mother, never thought I'd be photographed for a French Newspaper during the Tour de France, never thought I’d live without an oven, and never thought I would be accepted so completely by so many young, fellow students. All this and more I experienced while developing my French language skills and building a strong appreciation of the French culture.

Studying abroad allows one the opportunity to observe and integrate habits and behaviors of the host culture. For me, I definitely integrated the concept of conservation.  Also, I learned how to be more efficient with my resources and my time. Walking everywhere and taking time out of the afternoon to relax in a park were two of the things I enjoyed most that I picked up from the French quotidienne. Just taking the time out of your day to pick up a random conversation with someone in the park or at the market adds so much to the experience.

Lisa and other students in a cooking class

 

The group poses after a hike

I was also able to establish relationships with the people I came in contact with each day. On my way to school, a twenty-five minute walk up a mountain, I always passed the same merchants setting up for the day. After mustering the confidence to try and speak, I found they were more than willing to talk and to correct my French! Surprisingly for me, I learned they were as curious about America and our ways as we are of other cultures. I looked forward each day to seeing the “basket lady”, the bread baker, the retired couple tending their garden, and the older gentleman walking his dog. They made my experience that much richer.

So, would I recommend a Study Abroad program to other UNCG students? Absolutely. Study Abroad when you are young. It will open your eyes to a bigger world than our own here in the United States. As an Adult Student, STUDY ABROAD!!! You will learn so much about yourself, and so much is available to learn from your fellow younger students. The world is a bigger place than we older adults remember. When you`re young, the world seems so big. As an adult, it somehow shrinks into tiny compartments of "us and them." By studying abroad, you remember the world of your youth. It`s a great, big, beautiful place full of wonderful people and adventure! Even if you’re not studying a foreign language for a degree, consider studying abroad in your field of study. You may find that what your mind and your heart see are entirely different from what your eyes see. There’s no textbook that will ever teach you that difference.

Stateside and ISA to present at the NC International Student Leadership Conference

Two student groups from UNCG (with staff advisors from IPC) will present at the North Carolina Association for International Educators (NCAIE) International Leadership Conference on November 13-14, 2010. Stateside, a group for former study abroad/exchange students will attend and present, as well as representatives from the International Student Association (ISA).

The ISA will be sending several of their board members to this conference, including the president Blane Stanaland, Truc Trinh, Amanda Headley, Mary Hutchens and Stephen Qualls. They will give a presentation titled “Breaking Barriers: United Student Groups and Embracing Diversity”. Also attending the conference will be Yuva Indian Student Association president Maram Rahul Reddy and members OmPrakash Eleti and Vivek Sama

The primary purpose of the conference, which will be held this year at High Point University, is to promote cross-cultural exchanges and foster friendships between international students from various colleges and universities in North Carolina. The target audience for this conference is international students and also American students returning from a study abroad experience, planning a study abroad experience, or advocating for international students.

This conference is designed to enhance participant leadership skills, cultural understanding, and build social networks to sustain upon return to their respective institutions. The conference will include a service project and key note speaker Lori Timm with the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro. An international dance mixer will round out Saturday's activities.

(information drawn from the NCAIE website)

Previous editions:

Volume 10, Edition 2, October 2010

Volume 10, Edition 1, September 2010

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