Studying abroad had always been a desire of mine. Since high school, I wanted to study in France because the teachers and professors who mentored me had grown up with some aspect of French culture in their lives. Their shared experiences fueled my desire to immerse myself into the culture to experience it head on.
Centre D'Etudes Franco Americain De Management (CEFAM) interested me because I would be able to study business and French simultaneously. I am an entrepreneurship and international business double major, with a minor in French, so a business school in Lyon was right up my alley. CEFAM’s summer semester started when Rider’s finals weeks began. Let’s just say that I had approximately five hours after accommodating sleep to unpack Rider, pack for CEFAM, and get on a plane.
I have previously been to Paris, but not to Lyon. I preferred Lyon because I admire the countryside more than dense city life. Even though Lyon is the second largest city in France, the pace of life was much slower than Paris. I lived in an apartment by myself, which was something I had never done. There was no meal plan, so I had to cook for myself or go out to eat with classmates. I was surprised at how friendly all of my neighbors in the building behaved. It didn’t matter if you personally knew anybody or not — if two people passed, a bonjour or bonsoir was exchanged. To this day I still don’t know when day turns into evening — I would accidentally say bonjour when it was 8 at night!
CEFAM summer semesters usually have more American study abroad students than natives however, I would have loved to have more time to get to know native students. It didn’t bother me, however, because I enjoyed exploring Lyon, and especially Vieux Lyon, at my own pace. I am fairly independent, so I had no trouble navigating France’s public transit systems to get around. Outside of Lyon, I went to Arles to visit Claire, a friend whom I met online three years ago, then to Paris, Grenoble, Annecy and Paris again. After my semester, I spent another two weeks with Claire in Nice, where we enjoyed hiking with her father and taking a day trip to Monaco.
During my time abroad, I had the opportunity to participate in events that were part of my program. I loved the cultural trip to Beaune where we learned how to conduct a wine tasting, as well as tour a museum that used to be an ancient hospital. At the end of the semester, the class had the opportunity to visit a company warehouse and learn the interior workings of Intersport, a French sporting goods company.
Outside of my program, I attended Epitanime, a weekend-long anime convention in Paris. I previously knew of this event (grace à Claire) and I was excited to see the differences in how the French run their fan conventions. I was immediately thrust into speaking non-stop French for the entire weekend to the point where my own English sounded foreign to me.
I am normally timid with speaking French because I do not have the best grammar, but forcing myself into this position helped me get out of my shell. I gradually became comfortable to the point where I didn’t think of my grammatical mistakes, and simply focused on conversations with the new friends I made. A group I met was actually the reason I went to Paris a second time, because they were having an outing in the city while in costume to make short live action films, and they invited me to join them.
Overall, my experience abroad was something that I doubt I could ever recreate. The friendships I formed while abroad followed me back home. I enjoyed trying new food (especially bread and desserts), quietly exploring my surroundings and being able to live French culture instead of reading about it. I finally got to meet a close friend in person, which only strengthened our bond more.
I miss the ease of traveling across the country within a few hours. It was incredible to witness cultural differences within France’s geographical regions for a day trip. However, I don’t miss how the trains sometimes decided to go on strike and mess with my plans. But hey, c’est la vie.
I loved my experience at CEFAM, and I would gladly attend again if I still had some time before graduating, but being in a classroom does not teach experience. That kind of education is received by going out into the world and embracing it head on.
10 Benefits to Studying Abroad
Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a college student. By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land. Here is a list of the top 10 reasons to study abroad!
1. See the World
The biggest reason you should consider a study abroad program is the opportunity to see the world . By studying abroad, you will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.
In addition, when you’re abroad, you won’t be limited to traveling in just the nation in which you are studying – you can see neighboring countries as well! For example, if you study in France, you’ll have the option to travel through various parts of Europe including London , Barcelona , and Rome.
Another reason you might consider studying abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.
You’ll find that completely immersing yourself in the education system of your host country is a great way to really experience and understand the people, its traditions, and its culture. Education is the centerpiece of any study abroad trip—it is, after all, a study abroad program—and choosing the right school is a very important factor.
3. Take in a New Culture
Many students who choose to study abroad are leaving their home for the first time. When they arrive in their new host country, they are fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives. When you study abroad you will find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres.
You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history. You will have the opportunity to witness a completely new way of life.
4. Hone Your Language Skills
Chances are if you’re planning on studying abroad, one of the major draws is the opportunity to study a foreign language. Studying abroad grants you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in.
In addition to the considerable language practice you will get just in day to day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to provide you with a more formal education. Immerse yourself in a new culture and go beyond a purely academic experience
5. Career Opportunities
When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.
Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.
6. Find New Interests
If you are still questioning why to study abroad, you should know that studying in a different country offers many new activities and interests that you may never have discovered if you’d stayed at home. You might find that you have an as-yet undiscovered talent for hiking, water sports, snow skiing, golf, or various other new sports you may never have tried back home.
You’ll also have the chance to discover other new and exciting forms of entertainment. Plays, movies, dancing, nightclubs, and concerts are just a few activities that you can enjoy.
7. Make Lifelong Friends
One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. While studying abroad, you will attend school and live with students from your host country. This gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.
After the study abroad program ends, make an effort stay in contact with your international friends. In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road.
8. Personal Development
There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You might find that studying abroad really brings out your independent nature. Students who study abroad become explorers of their new nation and really discover the curiosity and excitement that they harbor.
A benefit to studying abroad is the opportunity to discover yourself while gaining an understanding of a different culture. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve.
9. Graduate School Admissions
Like future employers, graduate school admissions boards look very highly on study abroad experiences. Students that study abroad display diversity and show that they aren’t afraid to seek out new challenges or put themselves in difficult situations.
Most importantly, students who have studied abroad show just how committed they are to their education. Graduate schools regularly look for candidates who will bring a unique aspect to their university. Students who have studied abroad have shown that they have the curiosity and educational acumen to be a leader in graduate school.
10. Life Experience
Why study abroad? For most students, this time may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity.
Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures. Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other.
Study Abroad Guide