Why did you choose this program?
I used to be a professional skier. It was my job to travel around the world and attend world cup competitions. I had been in France a few times before and loved the French. One year, in between competitions I went down to Marseille, in the South of France, with my team. I fell in love with the South of France.
My injury was so unexpected I thought I would continue as a professional skier for some years. After my injury, I thought my travel days were over, so I was ecstatic to learn I could combine my education with a study abroad experience.
I was so excited to learn about this program I literally decided to come less than a week after hearing about CEA for the first time. It felt like such a natural progression; I love to travel, and it gave me the opportunity to combine that with my college education. It was a wonderful decision to make.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I spoke with my Business and Communication advisors at my University to ensure the I would receive credit for the courses I was taking while abroad.
My program provider, CEA, actually helped me out immensely. One of the reasons I chose CEA is because they book your apartment and find you roommates. That is so helpful! It is so challenging to book an apartment for only four months from overseas.
I knew no one coming over here, but they had group orientation and different events during the months we were abroad to help us feel comfortable living abroad and learn about France.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
It is worth it, and it will be a life-changing experience. My family wanted me to study abroad as soon as I went back to college, but I knew nothing about it and pushed it to the side. "I've already traveled all over Europe, why would I do it again?"
Staying somewhere for four months is long enough for you to actually experience the culture deeper, and more accurately than going to world level competitions for two weeks only.
My biggest piece of advice would be to experience this adventure with your eyes open. Don't judge your experience based on what you are used to at home. Embrace the quirks of the country that you are in.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
During the first month, we had activities every weekend. They have continued all semester, but have become every few weeks as students embark on their own adventures.
Every week is different, and even every day is different so it is challenging for me to tell you about an average week -- no week is average.
That being said, for the first three months I attended class Monday-Wednesday and traveled Europe and France on the weekends. The amount learned from the adventure of studying and traveling abroad is invaluable and immeasurable. The lessons you learn from just living abroad will enhance your qualifications in any major, particularly in my case, studying business communication.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Honestly, my biggest fear was just that I was old, and I wouldn't have a life-altering experience. I was worried that nothing about the experience would scare me, and it would seem too basic.
Over the course of this trip, I have learned a lot about myself, and it really has been an indescribable, wonderful, life-altering experience. I have felt scared, frustrated, anxious, and excited. The number of emotions that I have felt has been surreal.
I left the U.S. as a young adult, and am returning as a full adult. I now know what career I want to pursue, where I want to live, what I want out of a romantic partner, and what my strengths and weaknesses are.