Study Abroad Spotlight Jessalyn Gingras: Loving the ‘City of Love’

Class of 2013
University: Institute for American Universities Location: Aix-en-Provence, France
Partner: IAU
Semester Abroad: Fall 2011
Duration: 4 months

Reason for going:

I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Europe in college, and I was given the opportunity and requirement to study abroad as a junior in the International Business program. I had always found Europe and its history and varying cultures fascinating and sought to broaden my knowledge and experiences regarding France and Europe in general.

Best experience/memory:

My most memorable experience was seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the night for the first time. You truly understand why Paris is called the City of Love and why there is so much hype and so many clichés about Paris and the Eiffel Tower. That single memory is what gave me the “wow” factor but the best experience of being abroad is just being able to travel to all the places you thought you might never get to see in your lifetime.

Funny cultural experience:

I would say my most comical cultural experience happened when talking with my host mother’s granddaughters. They were 2 and 7 years old and it was always entertaining when the 7 year old, could not understand my French pronunciation and was always correcting me!

How was the school different from Bryant University?

The school I went to was not very different from my experience at Bryant University and in the International Business program because it was very small (less than 100 students), all American students while many of the professors were international (French). Going to that school was very comfortable because of its similarity to Bryant. I would say the biggest difference was the walk from my host family’s apartment – 25 minutes compared to 2 minutes at Bryant!

How did this experience change you?

The experience made me much more aware of other cultures and different types of people around the world. Traveling extensively also made me aware of the different infrastructures, dining experiences, transportation systems, cultural norms, etc. that are in other countries and how different and fascinating they can be from the United States.

Would you study abroad again given the opportunity?

I would love to and wish I had the opportunity to study abroad again. It was my single most memorable experience in college and has led me to hopefully pursue international experiences in my future career.

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