Q: Where did you go and how long were you there?
I was staying in the French Riviera for eight months.
Q: Did it cost a lot more than staying on campus?
I didn't pay much more than staying on campus because I did direct exchange. I stayed with a host mom rather than staying on the school campus. The money that I got from my [financial aid] refund, I used to pay for rent.
Q: What were classes like?
Schema was a business school and I'm not a business student. I had two French classes in the year-it was good. I also had other classes that I liked, but some business classes I struggled with.
Q: How long did it take to make friends there? Do you think you'll stay in touch?
It took a while to make friends and that's why I'm glad that I stayed for the entire year. It did take a while because you first have to make a connection. I'm also glad that I went through direct exchange and stayed with a host mom because I was able to branch out and make friends other than the other exchange students from the United States. I do stay in touch with one of the friends that I made.
Q: Did you have "culture shock" when you got back to the US/WCU?
I had more culture shock coming back than going to France. Hearing other people talk a different language was a bit shocking, ordering my food in French, and then dealing with money that looks like monopoly money. When I came back to the United States my parents took me to Taco Bell and I wanted to go back to the land of good bread & cheese. When I first stepped into my family home, I just wanted to go to back to France but after a couple of months back I was very happy to come back to Western.
Q: What's your best story?
My girlfriend Ali (WCU Alumni) had a philosophy conference in Riga, Latvia and we reunited there. It was in November so it was cold and snowing. We spent a weekend in Latvia and enjoyed the amazing architecture, it was very beautiful. I had also made a friend there and later in my travels I went to visit her before I came back to the United States.
Q: Do you have any tips for someone planning to study abroad?
Whatever your goals are go in with an open mind, and if you are trying to learn the language then speak it. You want to let the locals know that you want to learn more and be better so they won't speak to you in English. Wear comfortable shoes and pack very lightly. You want to pack lightly because you are going to buy things: I got clothes and shoes!
Want to know more? Check out the Study Abroad Office for more information!