Where did you go? When?
Universite de Caen-Basse Normandie in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010
Would you recommend this location to another student? Why?
Of course I would recommend this location! Not only is this area of France beautiful but the amount of history that one can learn up close and personal in phenomenal. There was a castle of William the Conqueror right in the middle of the city and the D-Day beaches were only a drive away. Also, the city of Caen has a great city center where you can just go and hang out.
What was your most memorable experience/day/moment?
Since I was there for 9 months I can't say that any one experience was my most memorable but there were days when I really just got to experience the French lifestyle...and I liked it. My friends and I would grab a bottle of wine, some cheese, and a baguette and walk down to the grass in front of the castle and just sit, eat, and drink. Now, what's more French than that?!
What was your worst experience?
My worst day was no doubt the day I was not able to do my laundry. This sounds ridiculous; however, it was one of those things that we take so for granted in the states that it had an effect on me. I was having a rough week: I was struggling with the French language, I had tendonitis in both heels (from a trip to London which was AMAZING but a lot of walking involved), I was homesick, and now I couldn't do my laundry that I had already signed up for because the office was out of coins. When I saw my friend, I started bawling.
What are the benefits of study abroad? (Personal/Academic)
Personally, I learned so much about myself abroad. I was in a completely new place on my own. Despite those bad days, I learned to take things as they came to me and I became more confident in myself. Another benefit was that I made some of the best friends possible. Whether they live on the other side of the US or the other side of the ocean, I know that when we see each other again it will be like nothing has changed.
Academically, you gain knowledge through experience. Whether you are taking classes towards a major or classes to learn a language, you get to do it in a different country. I may have to stay an extra semester to finish my math degree but I got to add a French degree to that as well and I can now have a conversation in French!
What advice would you give someone considering study abroad?
Do it. The best advice there is to give. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and in my opinion, all of the work that I had to go through was worth it. Also, get in contact with someone who has done it before. They can give you some hints and help you out with those questions like what to pack.
Would you recommend Student Leaders International (SLI) to students when they return from abroad?
I would definitely recommend SLI to returning students. Everyone loves sharing their stories and us in SLI love to hear them! I have met some great people with the same interests as me and I wouldn't have if not for the organization. Besides, after a year my parents no longer seemed too interested in "This one time in France..." ;)