What would I say to other students thinking about going abroad? If your finances permit you, DO IT! I have not met a single person who has ever done an abroad program Study Abroad Office and has reflected negatively about it. There are, of course, always negative sides to the experience, but none so bad that I would reconsider the decision. For me, it was quite difficult to decide to go, because I was afraid of a great deal of things. So, in order to ease the minds of the worried (like me), I will address some concerns that I had (and I imagine you may have too).
- “I have never lived alone. What if I can’t handle it?” You’re most likely wrong. Unless your parents still do everything for you, you’re likely quite independent and there won’t actually be much of an adjustment when you live abroad. Do you know how to cook pasta? Do you know how to do laundry? Can you buy your own groceries? See, you’ll be fine. And even if you weren’t, there are some 30 other students just like you who can either help you with everything, or who will at least make you feel like you’re not the only one struggling.
- “How will I spend 5 months away from my family and friends?” First of all, get Free mobile and you can talk to Canada all the time you want for free. I talked to someone from my family almost every day – in a lot of ways it felt like I never left. Second of all, they can visit you. Most of the students I know had someone come over and visit them for a week or two. Thirdly, you’re bound to make new friends – either with the other international students or with locals. And last, but certainly not least, you’ll be in Europe! Even if you feel lonely, it’s such an amazing place that you can just spend all your free time reading about, looking at, and traveling to amazing sites.
- “What do you mean ‘You’re not supposed to eat during class’?!” It sounds funny, but this was a concern for me, knowing that their school days are 9:30AM to 5:15PM and yet they don’t allow food during class time. Back in Capilano, I am more often than not munching away at something during class (if I don’t, my stomach grumbles distractingly). But, in either case, they do let you eat during class. Maybe not all the professors, and maybe not a full on meal, but you can munch away at food. Furthermore, there is a coffee break for 15 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon, and a long lunch break (an hour and fifteen minutes) at 12:45.
So, now that I’ve (hopefully) alleviated some of your concerns, let me say it again: just do it! These last 5 months have made me grow up and become more independent in ways that would have otherwise taken much, much longer back at home. And if you ever experience any difficulties during your trip (i.e. my pleasant flight cancellation fiasco), you’ll actually probably like those the best, because you’ll feel really proud for overcoming them in the end. Bonne chance!
Read Ann's full report(.pdf) on her semester abroad at France Business School in Amiens, France.