International student studying Business in Marseille, France

Host country: France
Host city: Marseille
Home country: United States
Department/faculty: Business
Program type:
Level of degree: Bachelor
Program length: 24 months
Program finished: 2017-06-01

Personal challenges

For me, the thing I was most scared of was the people I was leaving behind and how those relationships would be affected. Sure enough the types of relationships I had with certain people are no longer the same as I spent nearly 2 years time apart from them. My first year started off rocky because in the first day of classes I found out I was only registered as an exchange student whereas I meant to have a double degree student status. Consequently all of the courses I had registered for were incorrect and I had to wait a week before actually starting my courses. That was not fun. I also did not room with someone I knew so the dynamic in the house was not always the best. I also did not immediately fall in love with Marseille like I did with Paris so I had to find ways to get over in order to finally enjoy my time in France. Despite all of that, I actually loved my time abroad because it allowed me to become more patient and understanding (French system often seemed so screwed you just better laugh sometimes).

Personal takeaways

Like I mentioned above, all of the things I went through in France has helped make me a better version of myself. I learned that I can actually live with a stranger and be ok. All the things that went wrong in school and the fact that I had been trying for 2 months to create a bank account have made me become more patient. Being in Europe also gave me the opportunity to travel, so even though I didn’t love Marseille, being there I was happy, because the next destination was so close and not too expensive.

Academic challenges

Since I spoke native French, the local language was not an issue but the requirements we had to graduate from the host institution were. As a double degree student, I had to make sure that I did everything to also graduate from the host institution as well, but the expectations were often unclear or unheard of. For example, I had to do a proact and even though I did it, I could not explain to you what it actually is. I also had to pass a French test even though I was already put into French courses and I had previously proven that I could cope with it. Another issue was finding an internship: even though I was told I would get help, I had to arrange everything on my own.

Academic takeaways

I don’t think any of these academic issues could have been avoided and the fact that they did happen was really ok now that I think about it. After a while, I realized that I had gotten used to a certain degree of professionalism back home that obviously changed during my studies abroad and I had to stop stressing because it eventually worked itself out.

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