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Why I Liked Studying Abroad At a Women's College

September 8, 2016

ISEP student Laura M. left her family and friends in Le Mans, France for the first time to spend a year in Georgia at Agnes Scott College. Here she talks about how her experience was quite a bit different than her expectations, in a very positive way.

“Educating women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.” – Agnes Scott College Motto

Coming from a country where Catholics can be strict (France), I was originally worried about how women would be treated at Agnes Scott College, possibly having to watch their manners like nuns. With hindsight, I realize that international students should not stick to this biased vision of ASC. When you learn the actual story of the college’s founder, Agnes Scott, you understand that this institution was created to emancipate women with education, which they had historically been denied. Building a “world for women,” as the motto goes, opens them to new horizons and prepares them for the challenges of their time.

The dining hall at Agnes Scott College
The dining hall at Agnes Scott College

Everything at Agnes Scott reflects the core values of this mission. Ideally situated in a natural setting with beautiful trees and a fountain – where locals can take strolls and walk their dogs freely – I perceived ASC as a mini-community in which everybody spontaneously says “hello” to each other and is elated to include you in their “great family.” I particularly admired the effort that American students demonstrate to excel in class. In this collective impulse, the constant interaction between the students and the professor relegates no one to the back seat. Instead of imposing his or her will (as you could find in France), the professor acts more like an arbiter whose academic material becomes a fuel for a great discussion so that everyone truly learns from each other.

Moreover, the possibility of taking self-scheduled exams at the end of every term considerably enabled me to see myself as a responsible and committed adult determined to achieve my goals. I also recommend students to meet with their professors during their office hours; the small structure of the college, to me, increases the intimacy of the exchange experience.

While studying there, I was writing a master’s thesis on hip-hop dance with a professor of English in France. I had always been passionate about African-American culture since childhood, and though hip-hop did not originally emerge in the South, I viewed Atlanta as a vibrant historical cradle to get in touch with African-American heritage. As it happens, Dr. Yvonne Newsome’s African-American sociology class will especially remain etched in my mind forever. I remember seeing her during her office hours concerning take-home assignments, during which we would also debate about our respective personal and cultural backgrounds.

Me (on the left) and an American friend!
Me (on the left) and an American friend!

Thanks to the availability of ASC staff to calm my fears of being immersed in an unfamiliar environment, I was able to strengthen my self-confidence and autonomy for the future. Every time I look at my ASC purple bag still hanging on my bedroom wall, it reminds me how this college taught me to express and enrich my potential to perhaps make the world a better place. Especially in periods of global crises, going abroad – at least in the short term – is always an awesome opportunity to revise one’s stereotypes and improve dialogue between different people and cultures. Now that I am done with my English studies, I plan to go to Canada to hopefully find a job in an international cultural organization.

Browse through Agnes Scott’s Global Stories Blog and see how engaged the international community is on campus. Think you want to study abroad at Agnes Scott College? Learn more on the ISEP website.

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