Student Finishes His Academic Studies in France; Quite a Learning Experience
Written by Peter Ramacher, Class of 2015, MIS student
As my second semester at the University of Strasbourg School of Management in France has progressed, I have had a number of new experiences in the French education system. Of course I have also been doing more traveling around Europe and will share these excursions with you.
It's quite hard to believe that I am already well into my final semester at the University of Strasbourg. Fortunately, just as with the first semester, I have had great experiences thus far at the university, and am taking an assortment of interesting and culturally diverse courses. I am enrolled in two courses in which French students make up one-third of the class population. This is quite rare in English speaking courses at the University of Strasbourg, but it has given me the opportunity to mix with French students and to better understand both the French culture and how to better succeed in courses at the University. As a result of having courses with a large number of French students for the first time, I was able to become friends with a French student interested in helping me to learn French in exchange for assisting him with perfecting his English!
Additionally, during my final semester in France, I have also had the opportunity to take a course called "Theater and Body Language: Tools of Management." This course has been a very unique experience, as the structure of the classes and the content focused upon is unlike anything I have ever experienced in a course. Why is it so different? First of all, for the entire class, we are in a room with no tables or chairs and are constantly active. Sometimes we are even allowed to use the entire building of the School of Management as our classroom! During the class, we perform theater, trust, and relationship based exercises. One exercise that we performed entailed leading other students with their eyes closed around the room, and the building, using only the sense of touch to guide them. The ways in which the exercises performed relate to management and organizational behavior are astounding, and become clear after reading academic articles on the crossing of arts training with business for the purpose of improving business!
Benefits of Making Friends Abroad
Becoming friends with students from around the world has many benefits. Of course, at the most fundamental level, these relationships can strengthen your social circle and provide you with support, just as any other true friendship would. In addition, as I have mentioned before, making friends and acquaintances abroad has the potential to help immensely with your career prospects, especially if you are considering working as an expatriate. However, making international friends has another great benefit as well! This benefit is the reality that international friends can provide you with an insider's perspective of their country when you visit them. Trips made to an international friend's home country flow so much smoother and are much more engaging with the assistance of a local friend.
In my case, I have become friends with many students from around the world. It just so happens that, recently, I was able to visit two of these friends from my first semester at the University of Strasbourg. I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Germany. While visiting Mannheim (the city in which he studies), I was given a tour of the city, as well as the University of Mannheim (Mozart studied here!) and never had to worry about getting lost or wondering about the history of different sites. As a bonus, I also had the opportunity to visit Frankfurt with him as well! Thanks to his knowledge of the city, I was able to see many sites in the city, such as the European Central Bank and the Opera Hall of Frankfurt, all with meaningful context.
In addition to visiting Mannheim and Frankfurt with a German friend, I also toured some of the Czech Republic with a friend from my first semester at the University of Strasbourg. During this trip, I not only got to see the beautiful city of Prague, along with the "real" Czech Republic via the hometown of my Czech friend, but I was able to do all of this with three other French speaking friends, resulting in an intensive three-day French “course.” While discovering Prague, we saw the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Kafka Museum, and many other sites. Perhaps the most interesting part of the trip was our visit to my Czech friend's hometown of Třebíč. In the relatively small town of Třebíč, we had the opportunity to get a better view of well-known eras that took place in the area of Europe that is now the Czech Republic.
I hope this article has given you more examples of the diverse and enriching experiences that one can have while studying abroad! As a student abroad, you will find many valuable experiences within the classroom that will give you a new perspective on your career path, and may even redirect it entirely! Of course, not only will you benefit from new and diverse classroom experiences, but you'll also benefit and grow from the people you meet and the diverse backgrounds that they bring to the table.