Although they are studying abroad in two different cities, ACCENT Community College Scholarship recipients Kate Gallant and Francisco Edeza have both forged unforgettable bonds with their newfound homes. Here, they describe their first impressions of the experience of life abroad and the process of adjusting to to their new surroundings. Whether it’s overcoming the language barrier or exploring the city’s complex history, both students come to the conclusion that studying abroad makes an indelible impact on personal and intellectual growth.
College of the Canyons
Summer in Paris 2018
I did not think my first week in Paris would come to an end, but it did, and already I feel there’s plenty to reflect on. It’s been a real week of adjustment, and not just because of the time change. I expected this, of course. I have never traveled before or been away from my home for more than a week. My French at the moment is spotty and my confidence level has waned, but I expected this language barrier. I expected crowded streets and stations, and I expected the process of getting used to having a roommate. I expected intense classes at the Sorbonne where I’m learning my French, and I would say this was the one thing I was truly anxious about.
However, what I’ve experienced just in this first week is pretty indicative of what will be one of the best months of my life. Indeed, the stations and streets are crowded, but it’s a constant moving crowd and you feel one with the Parisiens because they, like you, are just going on with their day. The language barrier is a given, though it’s not so bad. I have witnessed the difference saying “Bonjour” or “Bon soir” makes upon immediately entering an establishment. A native English speaker who’s learning French will have to push through the embarrassment when a French person waves aside your poor attempts and says, “I speak English.” Frankly, it encourages practice.
Having a roommate and being within a small group of people experiencing life abroad with you is a wonderful tool for bonding, and it certainly catches you off guard when you weren’t thinking it’d be easy to make new friends. Whatever you may be feeling, whether it’s homesickness or pure infatuation with the city, there’s a good chance someone else in your group is feeling it too and is wishing to find those who can relate. Classes at the Sorbonne are honestly one of the best parts of the day, because this too is part of the immersive method of learning a language.
One of the many, many reasons why traveling to different countries is important is so you can see past stereotypes and understand people within their cultural context. It’s a strange sensation being the foreigner and walking around with constant curiosity at your surroundings.
It’s surreal walking out of the subway and glancing behind you to see the Tour Eiffel. I think what can make or break one’s time abroad is how they choose to perceive all their interactions. You can either stay within the confines of your own culture and life back home, or you can broaden your mind and understand that you not understanding is part of the growth and journey.
Golden West College
British History and Culture Summer in London 2018
There are a few words that come to mind when describing my first couple weeks in London and they are words engulfed in positivity, productivity, and personal growth. Upon my arrival I was greeted with quite the culture shock. From what I have seen, the United Kingdom has a high respect for not only the arts, but also for their country’s rich history. With a majority of the museums in London being free, it isn’t difficult to develop a love for the previously mentioned subjects. For instance, one of the most lovely experiences was being able to witness a free performance by the London Symphony Orchestra in front of the National Gallery (also free) in Trafalgar Square. Respectively, as a history major and fan of the arts, my transition into this foreign culture was more of a pleasant handshake and nod rather than a shock. The only cultural difference that I have had difficulty adjusting to is seeing traffic run in the opposite direction. However, other than that quirk, my experience in London has been a dream come true as I visit museums every day, my favorites being the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Though if that isn’t your cup of tea, there is a countless variety of museums to suit everyone’s different tastes in London.
There is no doubt that this program has already exceeded my expectations and initial thoughts. I often hear of students, who come across the chance to study abroad, that are hesitant to take such a large step out of their normal comfort zone. However, I was beyond ecstatic before my arrival to have the chance to be in such a program. It is my opinion that the opportunity to study abroad is such an honor, as you have officially become a part of a larger international community. It truly is an eye opening experience that only leaves you craving for more and I say this only two weeks into my program. Through my short time in London with ACCENT, I am already eagerly waiting to travel and immerse myself in another uniquely different culture. Nevertheless, with how much I’ve grown to love this city, I’d be quite satisfied with staying in London for a longer period of time if I had the chance to.
Overall, the ACCENT program has been a pure delight. The ACCENT Center is simple to reach and their staff are always helpful in any predicament that arises. Furthermore, I absolutely love the historical building that our class is situated in. Our classroom in particular is dressed in Gregorian architecture which makes each class meeting a joy to take part in. I have thoroughly enjoyed my study abroad here in London and I look forward to the experiences that are ahead.
ACCENT is proud to support the Community College Scholarship as part of our commitment pledge to IIE Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to help more U.S. students gain international experience through study abroad programs.
Ready to take Francisco’s advice and step out of your comfort zone? Studying abroad is an amazing way to expand your horizons and experience growth. Use the ACCENT Program Finder to take your first step into a new and exciting journey: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.