What are the disadvantages to studying abroad?
Money, Time, Language, Culture…
- Everything is 1.5 times more expensive than you think
- You’re tempted to go out all the time
- Nothing’s free
- Never seem to have enough cash
- You’re now legal age to buy alcohol - possible money pit
- Indeed you’ll be having a great time in foreign country, but at some points you just want to be with your friends and family. Spending the whole school year at school and then the summer abroad kind of ruins that.
- You’ll be six hours ahead of schedule, or more depending on your home/abroad locations. This means when you wake up, no one at home is awake. When you want to go to bed, everyone is coming home from work ready to skype/chat/email.
- You miss out on an summer of making money and gaining work experience at a job or internship. Instead you’re paying more money to travel, live and learn abroad.
- If you know the language - fine you’re good to go. If you don’t speak the language you end up learning as you go, but it wears you down after a while. At a certain point the weird stares, the missed orders, the lost in communications add up to be really frustrating.
- We missed fourth of July
- We missed the historic last space shuttle launch
- The bus system stops at 7 pm
- The metro stops at 1 am
- Cars and people attempt to occupy the same tiny streets - almost got run over
- France has the most official holidays and they always find an excuse not to work
Would you study abroad again?
If I could, I would.
Studying abroad has definitely helped me understand more about France, Europe, and how the world views the United States. After this six weeks I now have a ton of new friends that I hope to keep in contact with as well as a better understanding of myself and my goals.
If I was going to study abroad again it probably wouldn’t be in France, but that’s just me. I would really like to spend a lot more time in Spain and would love to visit Portugal and Greece.
Would I recommend GEA?
Yes - If you’re into aerospace engineering and looking to study abroad.
Doing the aerospace program in France was a great experience and I don’t think I would have been worth it without the aerospace classes. The classes helped me stay focussed because the information was directly relevant to my studies back home. If the study abroad program was some other topic, I definitely know I would not have taken the classes as seriously.
Can you study abroad and not spend a ton of money?
With some sacrifices.
In this particular study abroad program there is a huge range of how much money the students can or want to spend. Those that are feeling the need to splurge will often bypass the free meal at the dining hall on campus for a much nicer meal within the city.
Those students who can’t or won’t spend that money all the time find their ways of really stretching their euros as far as possible. They go to the cheap market or local grocery store to pick up food if they want to for snacks and things. Otherwise, they are eating at the free dining hall on campus all the time. The thrifty students really analyze whether they absolutely need a particular item, such as seeing a movie or travelling on the weekend, or can get by without a movie and having some great inexpensive fun in Toulouse.
Do people in other countries hate Americans?
If you act obnoxious, most people will not like you.
So far I’ve gotten by just fine knowing the minimal French that I learned after I arrived. The chefs serving me in the dining hall get frustrated when I don’t know what the proper words are, but that doesn’t really bother me. It seems that whenever you’re at a restaurant the waiters try their hardest to help you order and have a nice meal. This is especially true if you go to a nicer restaurant.
We get many dirty looks from the French people whenever we’re being stereotypically American. The American students are used to their college scenes where playing loud music, talking loud, and drinking alcohol outside is acceptable among other students. In France they enjoy drinking, loud music, and alcohol is legal to drink anywhere in the city, but that seems to be only near the bars and clubs. That kind of behavior is looked down upon near residential areas, such as the dorms.
If you don’t want any trouble, just be respectful.
Pictures from our four days in Biarritz. Definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to.
Am I still enjoying the program?
We just arrived in Toulouse again from a two week long trip around France. It began with a flight to Paris to see the Paris Air Show and visit of Paris for about 4 days total. From Paris we took a train to Poitiers where we took classes at ENSMA for the week and had the rest of the time to enjoy and explore the small historic city. After Poitiers we took a bus to the coastal city of Biarritz. Biarritz is an incredibly beautiful city and was an very fun to relax at the beach with 30 of my newest friends.
It feels strange to be done with the GEA program next Wednesday, but there’s still a few classes left, a quiz and another report to write on our recent visit to Daher-Socata.
ENSMA campus in Poitiers, France where we learned about combustion and detonation this past week.
How did you transport all of your belongings?
Checked one bag, brought one backpack.
I probably packed a little too much clothes for what I needed. I had one large suitcase with roughly two weeks worth of clothes as well as a set of dress clothes. The backpack had a collection of things I wanted on the plane like my sweatshirt and laptop.
I’m staying in Europe for less than two months so I didn’t have any oversized items I especially needed to ship over here.