Katie Hale - Nice, France
When I came to Central I knew I wanted to study abroad. I had spent time in France when I was a senior in high school, and I wanted to amplify that experience and studying abroad was the perfect way to do so. Knowing exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study I applied to study in Nice, France at Ipag Business School. I knew nothing of the city, I knew only one other student, but I was ready to experience anything and everything France had to offer. I had so many amazing experiences and fond memories of my time in France, and the one constant in all of this were the friends I made while I was abroad. From the time spent in class learning from one another to spending free time traveling and hanging out, I can honestly say that I gained more cultural knowledge from those individuals than any class could have taught me.
From the second I stepped off the plane in Nice everything changed for me. I was opening my eyes to a new world I could have never imagined. As soon as I arrived at the school I could tell. All the study abroad students were gathered for our first orientation with one another. There were students from all around the world. Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands to name a few, all beginning the same journey together. I do not think I have ever been so excited and nervous all at once.
Classes began that next week, I was excited to find out what and how we were going to be learning. With so many diverse students in the classes, it allowed us the opportunity to learn from one another on the very subjects taught. I took an Intercultural Management class, and in this class we were given situation dealing with business ventures at a global level. It was extremely interesting to see how the different cultures represented practiced business. Being able to utilize our cross-cultural differences to solve the problems at hand allowed us to learn from experience; we were able to physically see how cultural differences effected business.
In retrospect, I found that I learned the most from my fellow students when we were outside of the classroom. Within the first few weeks I had built strong friendship with many of the other students. By living in apartments we had the opportunity to spend more time together, outside of school. Social activities were a way for us all to learn more about one another's backgrounds and cultures. One memory I will never forget was when my roommates and I threw my friend a birthday party. At this point we all knew each other fairly well and were able to interact as true friends. Really embracing and enjoying the cultural differences that we had all adapted to. At midnight, when it was officially my friend's birthday, she was sang "Happy Birthday" in five different languages (Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and English). I was caught of guard by my reaction. At that moment I truly realized the impact my time in Nice had made on me. To have made so many friends from around the world and to connect on such a level was mind blowing. We had all come into this experience as individuals having no idea what the outcome would be and were leaving with more than we could have imagined. Friendship that we knew would last and life changing experiences that we could have never learned as individuals in separate classrooms around the world.