ACCENT Paris: The Search For ‘Home’ Abroad

This week’s post comes from ACCENT Paris’ new Intern, Iuliia Demina, who is currently working toward her Masters Degree in Cross-Cultural Management. Iuliia discusses her studies in Lille, France and gives some advice to current students struggling with culture shock.

Bonjour! My name is Iuliia and I am an intern at the ACCENT Paris Study Center. I am from Russia and I am currently studying in France. I would like to tell you about myself, my study abroad experience in France, and the challenges I have faced.

   – Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I decided to specialize in Cross-cultural Communication and to learn languages when I was 17. I entered Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University in Russia at the department of French and English languages. From there, I started to contemplate what I wanted to do in my life. My first experience working with different cultures and practicing my English and French was during the Olympic and Paralympic games in Sochi in 2014, where I worked as a volunteer in the Accreditation Crew. I shared my room with American and Austrian volunteers and I noticed that there were differences between us, but it wasn’t an obstacle for us. On the contrary, it was an incentive to know more about the other cultures’ features and traditions. It incited me to continue my studies in this sphere and to go abroad.

  – Did you experience culture shock on your study abroad program?

My first study abroad experience was in Lille, France in 2015. I was studying at Lille 3 University.  Of course, I experienced culture shock when I arrived but it was minimal because I had already studied French culture, traditions and lifestyle at my university in Russia. That’s why I think it was much easier for me to integrate into French society. But there were some challenges to overcome, such as opening a bank account, the public transportation system, education system, etc.  After my experience in Lille, I decided to enroll in a Master’s program and I am now a participant in a double diploma program. The first year of my Master’s degree was in Pyatigorsk State University in Russia and my second year was in Limoges University in France. I really appreciated this experience!


   – What do you think could help a student “feel at home” whilst studying abroad? Could you give some advice to our future students?

Of course, it’s not always easy; international travel and study abroad can certainly be challenging but little problems, difficulties, and fatigue shouldn’t become major obstacles. To “feel at home” you should be open to meeting new people, discovering new cultures and understanding that there is no right or wrong culture or country. Sometimes, there is a natural tendency not to accept cultures other than your own, since we tend to compare our host country to our home country. You have to be patient, make an effort every day and, obviously, to try to integrate, and day by day you will become more comfortable in your host country. Later, you will laugh at what seemed like “big problems” that you overcame during your study abroad program, and remember all the positive moments, friends, and lovely places.

Good Luck!

~Iuliia Demina, ACCENT Paris

Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure: