by Katie Ramirez
Study abroad opens up a world of opportunities in many ways to each student who decides to engage in this life changing experience. Whether your time abroad is for a summer or a semester, you will grow a lot both academically and mentally. I decided to study abroad with an affiliate program for two months in Paris. I learned how to become a much more independent individual while accumulating a world view of other cultures I may not be exposed to everyday in the United States.
While I was in Paris I took two classes which accumulated to a total of 7 hours and received Texas Tech grades (a special program). The program offered Calculus III and Professional Communications for Engineers. Two classes don’t sound like much but for a summer session abroad in seven weeks, the workload was quite substantial. While I was at school at CEA (the affiliate program) I would arrive to the center Monday through Friday for six hours with a short 45 minute break. The environment was very welcoming and the staff was always willing to help in any way they could. My professors abroad were not American, they were both French and followed a strict way of teaching; thus they did not believe in bonuses or curving because it was something their culture was not used to doing. What I loved about both of my classes was that there were only ten students so we got a lot of one-on-one time with the professors to ask questions and make clarifications. All ten of us took the same classes and we were all TTU students, so the atmosphere felt very friendly.
Unlike most people who stay with host families while abroad, I had a furnished apartment in the center of Paris along with two roommates. Having previously experienced living with a host family two years ago in the same country, I got to see both sides of the experience each with its own advantages. Living in an apartment in my host country was great because I really immersed myself in the culture and lived among locals who were willing to help out and show me how things worked around the area. Living in an apartment allowed me to become a more independent young adult in the sense that I had to grocery shop at least once a week while cooking my own meals and doing everything on my own. However, living in an apartment style can be quite expensive due to the fact that you have to buy all of your basic needs (food, detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.). Living with a host family also has its perks because you’re provided with all those basic needs as well as a more in depth culture immersion as they want to know more about you and you learn what it is like to live in a family of another culture.
So put my experience in a nutshell, I’d say it has been one of my most life changing adventures yet. Study abroad is not necessarily as easy as it seems, yes there’s a lot of fun trips and traveling, but the primary reason you’re abroad is to get an education, so don’t forget that! Learn the language, experience the culture, travel, study, and have fun! Make use of this wonderful opportunity.