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Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad in France

February 18, 2016

ISEP student Emily S. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a junior from the University of Southern Indiana, and is studying French while abroad at Université de Caen in France.

As a junior from the University of Southern Indiana who had never been to Europe before, I had no idea what to expect for my study abroad in France. I only knew what I had seen in movies and read in books. Below I have some useful tips for what you should do right when you make it to your host campus!

1. Find the on-campus organization ‘Erasmus’ ASAP

Erasmus group in front of Mont Saint Michel
Erasmus group in front of Mont Saint Michel

Erasmus January 2016 Trip to Mont Saint Michel

Erasmus is an international club and they take you on trips around France that cost 2-5 euro and they help you connect with other foreigners. Erasmus really helps make the transition to the host school incredibly smooth and fun.

2. Talk to anyone and everyone!

Four photos of student with new friends
Four photos of student with new friends

I’ve never made so many good friends in such a short amount of time. You have to remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, they know practically no one and are just as desperate to make friends and have fun like you are. So put any shy tendencies you have on the back burner!

3. Don’t assume anything

I assumed I would easily find college ruled notebooks and Diet Coke, I was completely wrong. The college ruled notebooks are super hard to find and the Diet Coke tastes like Coke Zero - I’m already having my friends back home plan my funeral. Don’t even get me started on my epic search for Chinese or Mexican food.

4. Don’t Worry about la Bise

Student and friend making kiss faces at camera
Student and friend making kiss faces at camera

Erasmus January 2016 Trip to Mont Saint Michel

The dreaded and anticipated kissing of both cheeks. Most of us Americans here in Caen were spazzing out and on edge waiting for it to happen to us. Would we be awkward? Would we do it right? Well they attack you with the kisses so swiftly you don’t have time to do it wrong, so do not fret about la bise, mes amis!

5. Just Breathe

Gardens and  building of Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen, France
Gardens and building of Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen, France

Abbaye aux Hommes - Caen, France

If anything can go wrong, it probably will. But anything overwhelming can be overcome by starting with just a few deep breaths. A glass of French wine can always help too. ;)

For more tips like these, check out a more in depth and Caen-specific post I made on my personal blog - Emily’s Declassified Caen Survival Guide.

*Does Emily’s post have you ready to study in France? You can find more information about Université de Caen or other sites in France on the ISEP website.

Want to see more from our ISEP bloggers? Learn more about our ISEP Voices Spring 2016 group.*

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