Alumni Spotlight: Susan Zhang

Susan is a senior-year student at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY. She is a double major in business marketing & French language. Susan studied abroad in Paris during the fall semester of 2015, where she completed her French studies.

Why did you choose this program?

students studying in Paris

I had always dreamed of studying abroad in France, so when it came time to choose a program, I narrowed down my top choices to a program in Paris or in the French Riviera.

Ultimately, I chose CEA Paris because I had learned so much about the monuments in Paris, and wanted to see what I had seen in pictures in textbooks, and explore them up close in real life.

CEA offered a great hybrid program that allowed me to study at both the CEA center in the heart of the city, and a famous French university, the Sorbonne.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

As soon as I expressed interest in studying abroad with CEA, I was contacted by a counselor who helped me through every step of the process. I received guidance on financial resources, getting my student visa, etc.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I think one of the best things that CEA offers are the excursions included in your program fee. During your semester abroad, CEA takes their students on a few excursions outside of their host city. Your program fee already pays for this, so you don't have to worry about shelling out extra cash at the time!

Transportation is covered, and oftentimes a meal will be covered as well. Definitely take advantage of these excursions, and go on every single one of them!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

One of the wonderful things about studying in CEA Paris, is that there were multiple programs to choose from. I was enrolled in the French Language & Liberal Arts program, which allowed me to split my course studies between the CEA center, and the Sorbonne.

Most days, I traveled between the two schools in different parts of Paris, by either walking or taking the metro. Depending on my schedule for the day, I would use a free morning or evening to explore the neighborhoods on my own!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

I was nervous to study abroad in Paris, as I had never traveled to Europe before, and didn't know if my language skills were up to par. This changed when I discovered that a large number of people in Paris speak English, and actually seem to love practicing their skills with English speakers.

What is one of your favorite memories from studying abroad?

A memory that I will never forget, is when I shared a Friendsgiving holiday with many of my American and international friends in Paris.

We had rented an apartment for an evening, and spent all day preparing a Thanksgiving feast. It was an awesome reminder of my favorite food from home, that I was able to share with my friends from Switzerland, Sweden, England, and China.