Katrina Sunter - St. Étienne, France
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 2:30-3:30 at Laurier International
Program of Study at WLU: Environmental Studies and Geography with a minor in French
Country and School visited: Université Jean Monnet in St. Etienne, France
Favourite things about your experience abroad: I really loved the daily croissants and pain-au-chocolate, as well as the baguettes and local markets. I made so many friends that I know I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.
What did you gain from this experience? I gained more confidence for future travelling than I ever thought I’d get. My whole outlook on travelling has completely changed and I can’t wait to go back to Europe for more.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student? Have fun. Keep on top of all the things you have to do to make your time abroad the best semester ever.
What was something new you tried while abroad? I tried hiking in the Alps, and I loved it. Even after my friend and I got lost and ended up going on a 9 and a half hour hike. It will always be one of my favourite memories too!
How did you find the change (if there was one) in the schooling system and classes? I decided to take the majority of my classes in French. This was really hard but definitely benefited me in the end with the improvement of my French. It took a long time to get used to new teaching styles in lectures but it really helped me to ask the local students around me, who were always happy to help me. Some even sent me their notes at the end of class! That definitely helped when I could barely right down a word of what the professor was saying in French.
Katherine Karpiak - Tours, France
Office Hours: Tuesday 10:30 am -12:30 pm
Program of Study at WLU: English and French
Country and School visited: Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France
Favourite things about your experience abroad: I really enjoyed how friendly people were. Every person I walked by said “bonjour!” to me. And it is also very easy to get to know people. Just by having a five-minute chat with someone will often lead to an invitation to go out and grab a café or a drink.
What did you gain from this experience? By being surrounded by French people, I definitely believe that my French speaking skills improved dramatically. I also feel I gained more independence and maturity by living and adapting to a completely different country.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student? Take advantage of every opportunity, or else you might miss out something. You are only there for a short time after all J!
What was something new you tried while abroad? Of course I had to try French escargots. The escargots were served a bit differently than in Canada, they were chopped up and mixed in with a brownish sauce and veggies. It was pretty good…a little rubbery tasting, but still something worth trying!
How did you find the change (if there was one) in the schooling system and classes? What I found particularly different was I did not actually pick my courses until two weeks after school had started. They sort of describe it like “window-shopping”; you try out different courses, and then officially pick them later. This made me feel much more comfortable when selecting courses and ultimately I ended up taking courses that I really enjoyed!
Anitta Toma - Tours, France
Office Hours: Wednesday 1:00-3:00 pm
Program of Study at WLU: Global Studies(Co-op Option) with a minor in French
Country and School visited: Science Po, Lille, France
Favourite things about your experience abroad: It was amazing to be in a city I have never been before, to explore and get to know its people and culture. As well, the friends I have made there will last a lifetime. All international students that I have met have been extremely easygoing and are eager to get involved.
What did you gain from this experience?: This experience has given me the opportunity to be independent. Throughout my time there, I have grown a lot as a person through travelling and facing different obstacles. As well, I have learned how to travel and what to lookout for. I cannot wait to embark on another journey overseas.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student?: Research the institute and country you are looking to go to and keep on top of all applications and visas. Once you figure out all of that, just have fun and enjoy your time there! Don’t forget to take lots of photos!
What was something new you tried while abroad? This past year was the first time I lived in a hostel. As small as this may seem, living in a 18 people hostel room for 5 days (with both girls and boys) was definitely something that changed my perspective on living expectations. Make sure to check out hostels when you travel!
How did you find the change (if there was one) in the schooling system and classes?: The classes at my university, in my opinion, were easier than those taught here, yet the style of the lectures was a lot less interactive. On a positive note, I did not have to buy any textbooks!
Sara Anderson - St. Étienne, France
Office Hours: Thursday 10:30-12:30
Program of Study at WLU: Global Studies and French with a minor in Economics
Country and School visited: Université Jean Monnet in St. Etienne, France
Favourite things about your experience abroad: I loved living in a smaller French town that wasn’t far from Lyon, a very historic city with easy connections to other parts of Europe. I made so many friends, both French students and other International students, and had a lot of adventures that I will remember forever!
What did you gain from this experience? Studying at a non-Canadian university really opened my eyes to the value of my university experience in general! I also enjoyed being able to travel and see things in France that I had studied in class back home.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student? Take advantage of every experience you can! But make sure to keep up with all the deadlines so that you won’t run into problems later.
What was something new you tried while abroad? I went to a medieval festival where you had to dress up to get in! It was great seeing everyone dressed in costumes, eating some old French dishes and listening to music from the period. They made it really authentic and I had fun but also learned a lot!
How did you find the change (if there was one) in the schooling system and classes? I took all of my courses in French in a variety of subjects, which was more difficult because I didn’t always have a background knowledge of the topic. I also had to adjust to the style of lecturing and expectations for assignments. But because of this, I was able to connect with French students and other international students and build relationships that will last.
Brooke Henry - Lille, France
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 11:30-12:30
Program of Study at WLU: History major English minor
Country and School visited: Institut de Sciences Po Lille, France
Favourite things about your experience abroad: I really loved the people I met at my school and while travelling. I also loved travelling. Weekend trips to Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK were absolutely amazing.
What did you gain from this experience? I became more independent and more confident in my abilities as a traveller.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student? Be open minded and always up for an adventure. Meet as many people as possible and eat as much foreign food as you can.
What was something new you tried while abroad? I tried wild boar when I was in Florence because it was the cities official dish and I loved it! Also in Italy I went to an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting. I never knew that a good olive oil is supposed to smell like grass and some people put balsamic vinegar on ice cream!
How did you find the change in the schooling system and classes? I took all of my classes in English but the style of teaching varied for every professor. A couple of my classes were more like seminars where as the French professors favoured a more lecture style. My schedule also varied. Some of my classes were everyday for only 2 weeks while others were once a week for the whole semester.