In a majority of my classes, I was one of only maybe three native English speakers, with the rest being French speaking students. I quickly befriended various groups of French students. We often compared life in Europe to life in America, highlighting differences in areas such as educational systems, politics, and societal expectations. I got to know some of them on a deeper level when they offered to take me on a weekend trip to the chateaux of the Loire Valley.
As President of the Black Student Alliance & a member of MSU's Homecoming Court, I plan to use these platforms to create more dialogue on Spartans practicing being inclusive. Had I never been stuck with these individuals for three weeks, I would have never known the need for these spaces on our campus. I have much more to say about this experience, but to sum it up, I endured and because of this program, I am a better Spartan and will be able to make a greater impact at MSU.
By the end of our studies, I was able to interact commercially with relative ease and I even developed lasting relationships with many other international students (from Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Columbia, Belgium...) and professors from l'Institut de Tourraine – our place of study – wherein French was truly the only mode of communication.
Our first major stop was a French military cemetery, giving us a small glimpse into who the brave individuals were who fought and died for France in 1916. This moment, emotional at its core, was only the beginning of a truly eye opening experience.
If you are a student contemplating studying abroad, I am personally telling you that you should go. Like myself, it was very hard to decide whether the program was worth the expense and I questioned whether I would truly grow from it. From the bottom of my heart this study abroad program changed my life.
You then realize that something as simple as a dinner with your colleagues is more than just dinner, it is an experience you will never forget. An experience that you will only share with those three Spartans.
Leaving my own country for the first time in my life not only opened my eyes to new cultures and countries but also helped me to understand the world from a different viewpoint, a necessary asset to any teacher. It allowed me to understand that there is so much to be learned from the world and its people.
As someone who grew up in an embarrassingly small town with not a lot of opportunities outside school, I could have never dreamed about having such an amazing experience halfway around the globe.
I have learned the importance of gaining knowledge of the background of places outside of America and how crucial it is to become familiar with the world as a whole.
Nick took us on a tour of some of the major battlefields from World War I in addition to taking us to several cemeteries of various nationalities such as English and German. Throughout the experience, I was completely bewildered by the impact the war had on the terrain.
If you're interested in studying abroad, just do it. Why are you reading this? GO. If you're still skeptical, I'll tell you a bit about my own experience in the hopes that you'll like what you hear.
I chose this study abroad program in particular because of its connection with The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. This festival is the most exclusive and prestigious conference in the advertising industry. Many professionals who have been in our industry for years dream of going, and to have the opportunity to attend, as a student was an amazing experience.
Before leaving for my study abroad, I was nervous it would be hard to make friends on the program and the days would be filled with classroom lectures and have a very structured schedule. My preconceptions couldn't have been further from the truth. All the students on my study abroad were eager to make new friends and explore the cities we visited.
I went on behind-the-scenes tours of worldwide manufacturing powerhouses and sampled foods fresh off of the production lines. I visited the United States Embassy in Paris to learn about trade between the U.S. and France. I validated my entire six years of French language studies when I bartered at Paris street markets and conversed with locals who praised my French-speaking efforts.
Studying abroad gave me the utmost confidence in myself and taught me that not every situation will go your way. While in every location abroad, our professors were there to give us guidance when it came to academics but other than that we had to figure out how to navigate each city on our own.
Even within Europe we found that there are many different cultures and business and they are all equally important when conducting business. Being from the U.S. and only seeing what was around me forced me to see only one way of doing things and think that it was universal.
As communication students, studying abroad was a particularly valuable experience. Here we were, thrown into an entirely new situation – we didn't know anybody (not even each other, in the beginning), we couldn't speak the language, and yet we still had to function.
From the company visits to global companies such as Lear to the visits to US embassies and presentations from the European Union, my knowledge about the international comparative dimensions of business in Europe is above and beyond what I would have learned in a classroom setting.
Overall, my decisions to study abroad was of the best choices I've ever made. I gained vast amounts of knowledge in packaging that will prove very useful in my future, developed professional skills in a non-classroom setting, made memories and friends that will last a lifetime, and developed a stronger appreciation for culture.
I was so close to not going on my study abroad because I didn't think it would justify spending the money. After landing back in Detroit and getting off the plane to come home, I can honestly say I would spend 1.5x the amount of money I did if I knew it was going to change me and my view on life so drastically.
As we traveled up to the highest point in a chair lift, I fell into a state of shock, in awe of how breath taking of a place I was in. As soon as my friend Meghan and I got to the front of the line, my stomach dropped.
Honestly, for me the best part about traveling is meeting new people. One thing I learned about myself, is that I am more outgoing and independent than I thought I was. I loved spontaneity, everyday there was something to do and explore and I was all for it.
The first stop was Cannes, France. I learned more in this area than all of the others because we were extremely lucky and were able to attend the famous Cannes Lions Festival for an entire week. During this festival I was able to hear stories from some of the most powerful and important CEOs in the advertising and marketing field.
Before I had even signed up for International Food Laws, I pictured study abroad as just being an extended vacation; boy was I wrong. Even though my three weeks abroad were filled with great food, great scenery, and great friends, I learned more on this program than I had ever thought I would.
One of the first things that I noticed in France was the difference in language. Certain phrases and sayings and words were completely different than what we have been taught in school, so that right there was one of the biggest adjustments I had to make and get used to, although this was not the toughest part of the program.
I had to push myself to speak even when I had no clue if I was speaking correctly, I forced myself to try and make conversation as much as I could with natives, and I had push myself to learn and keep learning every day.
Upon reflection, I realize that even the most rudimentary tasks were somehow morphed into moments of powerful insight. In fact, I've coined a phrase to help me describe this cross-cultural phenomenon, simply titled "The Coffee Effect." Why coffee? No reason, specifically. I merely noticed that it's a drink consumed around the world.
Coming back from my program I can truly say that I have made 32 amazing friends. Each person was unique and yet we all fit together like a perfect puzzle.
We had many opportunities for hands-on learning experiences, including a project in which we were to create an international ad for a global brand of our choice. We were encouraged to include famous French landmarks in our ad campaigns, and thus, got a chance to explore the beautiful city while also expanding our knowledge outside of a typical classroom setup.
Our professor prefaced our trip with this simple statement; “Barcelona is like a children’s storybook, inviting, captivating and easily navigated by the reader. London is slightly more complex, much like a chapter book, with the tube for public transportation and a faster pace of life. Paris is like a complex intricate novel with history and layers that you have to unfold.”
My favorite project was when we had to create an advertisement by taking a picture anywhere in Paris and using the atmosphere and culture to represent whatever brand you had chosen.
We talked about global marketing strategies, and in what better places could this be taught than Barcelona, London, and Paris? These studies there makes me want to see what business abroad can offer, so now I am pursuing a minor in international business.
Going to college in Paris is very different compared to school at Michigan State. During our stay we studied at Novancia Business School, which is in downtown Paris.
People from all walks of life are so willing to help, to talk, to lend a hand, to grab a drink and it was simply just by respecting other people. I got out of some sticky situations just on the kindness of others. I’ve had some of my best moments from random happenstance encounters with kind strangers.
For one project, we had to choose one department to focus on in London’s world-famous department store Harrods and present their marketing strategy for their various brands. The real life experience of observing and analyzing their marketing techniques gave me a valuable insight and lesson in marketing.
Our final stop was Paris, France where we would spend most of our time and attend Novancia Business School. Getting to know and interact with the France students and faculty was a unique and eye-opening experience.
I had to rely on my skills in French to find lodging, use public transport, to purchase food, and above all to interact with the people living there. It was a challenging experience but one that gave me confidence in my language abilities.
Despite the hours spent travelling, Canadian and French immigration questioning me, and meeting my host family, there was just one question repeatedly playing in my mind, "Am I really here, in France?"
The studies there made me want to see what business abroad can offer, so now I am pursuing a minor in international business. I canâ
Although we had lecture in a classroom, we carried out multiple group projects which required us to explore various destinations such as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or street restaurants, and use our observations paired with classroom knowledge to complete our presentation. Being able to use the new cultural knowledge we picked up on made learning the classroom concepts much easier and much more enjoyable.
Studying in this picturesque city made spending all day carrying a camera more enjoyable than usual, and I did not think I could enjoy it anymore than I already did.
My hope is that by sharing my experience with my future students, I will encourage them to follow in my footsteps and never let anything get in their way of accomplishing their goals.
Over those two months, the extraordinary city of Tours became my ordinary, my home.
I recommend this program to anyone who loves French and wants to have the total French experience. Whether you study a language or not, if you find a program you want to study abroad, I highly recommend doing it. Even in high school I dreamed of living abroad and now I can say that I did it!
The next day I engaged in conversation with a music publisher and honestly, it may have changed my life. Now for the longest time I have been passionate about music and having truly gifted artists be known and loved as I love them. Funny enough it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.
Certainly my experience at the 100th Tour de France will be one of my most cherished memories from my two months abroad. I feel so fortunate to have been able to witness such an international spectacle, for surely such an experience will not be repeated in my lifetime.
Every evening I had a lovely home to return to, where I became part of a family who wanted to help me learn and have a good experience.
One of my favorite experiences from the program comes from New York City when a few people from my study abroad group created a fake band and decided to stage an impromptu photo shoot for our sham album cover in front of a 1970 Cadillac convertible parked in the street.
Hearing the unique perspectives and ideas of Young Lion winners and world famous brands and advertising agencies, brought together the global spectrum of creative advertising to me, and gave me inspiration and reassured me that this career is what I want to peruse here during my time at Michigan State.
We attended seminars, workshops, and presentations from companies such as Google, Heineken, Coca Cola, and more.
I learned that despite our different upbringings, the Romanian students and the American students still had many things in common. We were able to build many friendships in an academic setting, and collaborate minds to work on an assignment.
These are experiences that will be engraved in my head forever, and the best part of each memory? I was learning and taking classes at the same time, surrounded by Michigan State students and representing the remarkable University all over the world
In my opinion, this was a spectacular project because my group and I were literally thrown in a real-world situation and had to determine how to penetrate a new culture.
I am a non-traditional student who funded this program without help from my parents. It is very possible to do this on your own. I highly recommend study abroad to anyone on any income level.
The study abroad learning experience went beyond the courses. Everyday I woke up to a culture different than my own and it was incredible. With foreign smells deliciously filling my nose, music with soft beats I’ve never heard before, and beautiful old architecture surrounding us, it was hard not to enjoy even walking down the street and people watching.
The amount of enthusiasm and excitement Dr. Harrell expressed about the future experience made me realize that this was something I couldn’t afford not to do. From that moment I knew I had to take a leap of faith.
Project after project of flawless hand drafting and rendering skills left me speechless. What was even more impressive was the fact that the projects I was looking at were actually all done by first year students.
I became introduced to a variety of career paths that incorporated my passion for food and required a science-based degree.
This palace was called the People’s Palace and we had the opportunity to visit it during one of our days in Bucharest. All of us girls loved the palace and were astonished by how grand and beautiful it was.
I feel as though there is no better way to experience a culture than through eating their foods and that is exactly what I was able to do on this program. I was so full of culture by the end this program and I will always be hungry for more!
The great thing about this study abroad program was the experience of visiting the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. There is only so much one can absorb from a document or photograph. The true impact comes from the firsthand experience.
I traveled to four European counties not knowing what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised in each by the people’s kindness, the ease of commuting and the overall educational value of the 4 different cultures in each city.
I studied in 5 cities, 4 countries, with 3 different languages in 4 weeks; talk about amazing. This experience turned out to be a huge boost to my academic and career goals.
I taught 5 classes in the schools. This helped me grow as a teacher because the students I was teaching had little English skills meaning I had to think of other ways to communicate with the students.
After visiting the European Union Parliament and Commission, my fascination for international business has grown tremendously.
Inevitably I am familiar with the Holocaust that had occurred in Europe. Everything I knew, I had learned ahead of time in books and documentaries. However, not one picture or graphic documentary could ever compare to the experience I took away from Struthof Concentration camp that we visited on our study abroad.
I now know people from Mexico, Japan, Lebanon, Korea, Ecuador, Venezuela, China, and all over the U.S. These people showed me that just because your language, nation, or religion may not be the same, you still can have so much in common.
Thanks to MSU, though, I was able to travel to practice and study my French in France. Every day I was speaking French, whether it be in class, with my host mother, at the store, or with the other MSU students, I was learning new words all the time.
Conversing began to be natural, much like the moves to a dance become second nature after many hours of practice. Moreover, my time in the classroom helped me to express myself in essay form, as well as in speaking. I learned that I could understand lectures on philosophy, history, and politics in French, and could prepare presentations on intellectual subjects.
This program really made me want to learn French so I can go back and speak it fluently.
However, I would definitely recommend doing all of the activities that are made available. There is so much to see in Rome, and everything has its own historical background, so it was amazing to compare the landmarks to one another.
Being abroad allowed me to fall in love with my dreams and to grasp a new determination to go back and pursue a successful career in Advertising and Public Relations.
The courses in this program provided me with international awareness, which in an increasingly global society is a crucial attribute to have.
I remember giggling as I watched one of my classmates try to convey that all he wanted was water. The more she didn’t understand, the louder he would get. And hand signals were our way of trying to show them what we needed.
I had never seen such vibrancy from the doors and windows of each small apartment and townhouse to the hustle and bustle of people running their errands or heading to work.
Going to the heart of Nazi Germany and going up to Hitler’s Eagles Nest in the same elevator he used was a surreal experience for me.
Not only do you learn about the country and how it is right now, but when we toured various places and monuments, you get to learn about the past. Seeing all of the historic places in Paris allowed me to get an idea of how and why humanity has progressed.
This program has opened so many doors to endless possibilities and I hope to have the opportunity to participate in some of them.
The main academic parts of this program helped me develop the urge to continue to travel and research around the world about education systems and what seems to develop the happiest and most successful students so I can work to spread the knowledge to those education systems that need it the most.
When I arrived at our first location, Barcelona, Spain, I had no idea what to expect from the group I was traveling with or the places I was going. I signed up for the study abroad not knowing anyone and never having traveled to Europe. Our study abroad group of 33 individuals bonded quickly.
It is here that I began to realize that I was learning so much more than just Marketing 300/310. I started to comprehend that I was learning in a new way, and I found a confidence in myself that I had not recognized before.
My experiences in a different cultures dairy farm will help me to better understand the industry here in the United States and better manage a dairy farm here.
With the opportunities it presented for us to visit numerous well known corporation’s headquarters and facilities as well as to meet, quite literally, CEO’s and executive teams of these entities, we had access to network with people most students will never meet.
This experience helped me develop myself even further with diversity in education, culture, language and relationships.
Overall, studying abroad was worth two weeks of my summer. Although I was slightly homesick, I had an experience that I remember for the rest of my life.
The best part of this experience, though, was eating all of the food at this wonderful place! I got to try delicious fruits that I had never seen before, ostrich hamburgers, salted beef sandwiches, licorice sticks, sausages, fresh bread, exotic oils, and I could go on and on.
We were told that the Center would actually look at our work and consider using our ideas. This caused our group to work harder than any group I have ever been in before. We did research, created our material, and practiced our presentation together in a room at the Novancia Business School in Paris.
That is the secret behind study abroad; if you never go, you may always be blind to something you love.
There are very few farms in the United States that utilize robotic milking systems, which made this a very unique opportunity to see so many dairies that converted to this system and how it has changed the way they run their business.
I was able to improve my French as well as learn more about French culture and society. While there, I also became proficient in Portuguese through my roommates and friends. Knowing more than one language is important to me because it enables me to better understand diverse cultures and people.
The host family I stayed with was the nicest group of people I could have ever asked for.
I was the international student. For once, I was in the other person’s shoes. We see countless international students, travelers, and workers here in the USA who have difficulty speaking English. And what is our reaction? Many respond with anger, that if you want to come here, you better know how to speak English! Well, I was in France, and I spoke no more French than many international students speak English here in the USA.
Even as I write now I can still feel the great range of emotions from proud at the American Cemetery to dejected and empty at Buchenwald. Not only do you get to experience the subject you may already know so much about, but you get to see it within the context of another culture.
Food was a major part of my experience, from baguettes and croissants to duck and even snails! Initially, sitting down to eat was the longest and most frustrating process- but the food was amazing. Most of the menus were in French and it’s very difficult to share one miniature French/English dictionary with nine people.
Trying new foods, including extremely salty herring, struggling to communicate in three languages, and learning to travel independently in a foreign country truly gave me a hands-on experience that helped me personally and academically. Our group progressed past the surface level of sightseeing and truly interacted and engaged with cultures foreign to us.
Lear Corporation designed a great day program for us to be able to get a great sense of how their business works – in all aspects! They took us to the lab where their technology is developed. Then, they equipped us with lab coats, glasses and even electrical static protection on our shoes to tour the manufacturing factory where that same technology is then produced.
In Human Resources, staffing is a major component. An expatriate is an individual who leaves their host country (national country) to work in another country. In today’s growing market of International business, this is a common staffing topic. I am more aware of the necessary steps on how to form a package for an expatriate on a personal and professional level.
My first day in Paris was surreal. Upon my arrival at the airport I began to take in everything around me. Everything amazed me from the elegantly pink restrooms in the airport to the subtlest of things like the fact that they used hand clothes instead of paper towels.
I cannot emphasize enough how this program furthered my academic journey. I learned about collaboration. I learned about being observant. But most of all I learned about cultural differences. In the international business world, it is absolutely essential to be prepared for cultural differences. There is a vast difference between conducting business in metro Detroit and conducting business in Rome.
I wanted to do it myself but I always thought that I could never do it because I didn’t have a way to pay for it. Everyone told me, “It is worth it even though it costs a lot of money. Everyone should do it!”
We not only learned how to navigate a foreign city using the subway and non-English directions, but also got a firsthand experience at partaking in international business. The class structure was perfect for this type of program. We spent some hard working hours in the classroom as well as listening to very intelligent speakers who taught us about their culture and the way they interact in an international setting on a day to day basis.
One of the best experiences I had while studying abroad was our trip to the Cannes International Advertising Festival. We were very privileged to be able to go and I took full advantage of it.
I got along with everyone instantly, and for me it was interesting to see, people’s reactions to some of the typical European things, I was aware of. It reminded me of how it was the same for me, when I came to MSU and to the US the first time.
During my semester abroad experience in Paris, France, I was able to study at some amazing places such as Notre Dame, The Louvre Museum and the Musee d’Orsay.