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Monteyona Sears on Studying Abroad

Spill the Tea on Study Abroad

Q: Where did you go and how long were you there?

I was in France. I stayed in a city or town called Antibes, it was forty-five minutes from Nice. My school was in Sophia Antipolis and it was fifteen minutes from my home in Antibes.

MSears taking a mirror selfie in elevator

MSears taking a mirror selfie in the elevator abroad. 

Q: What were classes like?

Classes were long. I had classes every day except Monday. The classes were weird they would switch, like the classes that I have on Tuesday differentiate from the classes I have on Friday. The classes were three-hour long classes and it reminded me of grade school, and I did not like that at all. They would give us ten to fifteen-minute breaks, but it still was not worth it. I did not like how the classes were structured. 

Q: How long did it take to make friends there? Do you think you'll stay in touch?

It took a while. I was very skeptical of the people there and the French people are very weird in a sense. They will not come up to you and talk to you. If you are not going to put yourself out there and try being friends with people, it wasn't going to happen. I got lucky and met a friend from the Ivory Coast and I really hung out with them the most. They introduced their friend group to me, and I have been keeping contact with them.  

Q: Did you have "culture shock" when you got back to the US/WCU?

I did not have any culture shock when I came back to the states. The shock happened to me in France, and there are stages to culture shock. At first, I was really excited which is normal and then you got tired at the way things are going to the end. Then COVID hit. I also wasn't adjusted to the French lifestyle because I was on US time. It was different for sure.

Q: What's your best story?

I got my credit card got stuck in the ATM. I did not pull out my card out in time and the machine ate it. I had to get a new one and wait till my mom mailed me my new card and it was two weeks till I got my card. I also forgot that my dad could wire me money.

Q: Do you have any tips for someone planning to study abroad?

  • Try to plan a year ahead if you are studying abroad
  • Do your research in the summer before going or even a year before you travel abroad
  • Save money because your refund will only take you so much
  • Don't be afraid traveling alone
  • Ask about the host country postal service and how it works
  • Try to use public transportation and not just Ubers
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions to your host university, students or advisors or even asking your home university
  • Don't stress about finding somewhere to stay
  • Check to see if you need a visa for the country that you are visiting
  • Get your passport soon as possible
  • Look at the money conversion
  • Carry cash on you
  • Travel as much as possible
  • Bring universal adapters with you

Q: How did COVID affect your studying abroad experience?

It shortened my experience. I left like the second of January to France and I had to come back the second or third week of March. I did not get to travel as much as I wanted to do. My university was a school that students came from different countries and it was known that we all wanted to travel. We did not know what to expect when COVID started. When things got bad in Italy, I was already in quarantine because I had traveled to Amsterdam. My last in person class was the last week of February and then the university advised to quarantine our rooms and only go out for necessary items.

Q: Was there a valuable lesson or something you learned that will stick with you after being abroad?

Really big on not being scared on doing things by myself. If I had waited for someone, I would have not experienced the things that I did. I was glad that I ventured out on my own for traveling and experiencing things for myself. I did miss home and not having someone to do all the things with but at the end it really helped me. 

Q: Did you have a self-realization moment when you were abroad? If so can you tell us about it?

Yes, when I went to Amsterdam by myself. I had everything planned out and I was trying to figure out the public transportation out. I went to the city and I got overwhelmed and I also got lost at the train station and I was not prepared. I was close to freaking out because I was by myself, but I was on the phone with my parents and realized it was better for me to go back to my hotel and ty again tomorrow.

Want to know more? Checkout the Study Abroad Office for more information!

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