Alumni Spotlight: Erin Guy

Erin is a third-year student at Chapman University in Orange, California studying public relations and advertising with a minor in French. With a passion for travel, delicious food, and adventure, she is constantly finding new ways to explore the world.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I have always dreamt of going to Paris and CEA offered classes applicable to my major and minor plus tons of awesome experiences. At first, I didn't know much about CEA of the program, I just simply found it through my university, but I fell in love with everything about it!

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

CEA and my university held my hand through pretty much everything. I knew that if I needed help, they would be there to answer my questions (especially CEA). There are things that you have to do yourself, like booking your flight, going to the visa office yourself, plan your additional travels, but there is always someone to give advice and guidance along the way.

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

Do NOT take tons of classes. I took less credits than I normally do at my home university and still had a lot of homework and projects. Studying abroad is a really influential and important time to discover a new culture, a new continent, yourself, and so much more, so don't let school stand in the way. Make your experience uniquely you--don't just try to do what you feel like a study abroad student is "supposed" to do.

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

Typically I would get up, eat some breakfast or stop by a boulangerie, then head out to class. Some of my friends had the energy to go out and explore before class, but I am not a morning person.

After class, my friends and I usually would grab lunch or a snack and walk around to explore the area--you can find something new EVERY DAY in Paris. In the evenings, if there wasn't an event through CEA, I would relax and do homework.

Some weekends I went on excursions with CEA and the other students, while others I would partake in my own travels or adventures around Paris, and sometimes I would just stay home and work on homework. I love Disney, so I did go out to Disneyland Paris quite a few times (it's so much cheaper than at home!).

Going into your experience abroad what was your biggest fear?

My biggest fear going abroad is that I wouldn't have time to do everything, to see everything, to taste everything, and the list goes on and on. Honestly, I didn't have enough time, but I realized...that's okay. My focus was to enjoy my time there and not stress out about what I was or wasn't doing.

Try to do something new every day, or at least once a week, and if you don't, cut yourself some slack! Being in a new, foreign city can be overwhelming. My point is, by not doing everything, you still have something new to go back to someday. You can make an excuse to go back! After spending so much time abroad, you will quickly realize that you'll HAVE to go abroad again.

How do I make the most out of my study abroad experience?

While I've touched on this a little bit already, only you can determine what "making the most" out of your experience even means. I can tell you the typical answers of "travel as much as possible", "only eat at little French cafés while you're there", "oh you just must see every tourist site that exists" (and by all means, do those things if that is what will make you happy), but that would be too stereotypical.

Live your life, but live it abroad....with a twist. For example, I love to do things like bowling, roller skating, etc. So, while I was in Paris, instead of being cooped up in an indoor roller rink, I went roller skating on top of Monparnasse (the tallest building in Paris with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower).

That may seem like a strange example, but my point is, step outside of your comfort zone, but still allow yourself to be you. It's okay if you eat at Chipotle or stop by Starbucks or see an American movie, you can still say you did it in Paris and there will be plenty of weekends to do something more exciting and different.