Alumni Spotlight: Alexa Buechler

Alexa is from Overland Park, Kansas. She studies business journalism at Arizona State University and will be attending law school next year.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because most of the France study abroad programs through my school were in Paris. Paris is lovely, but I felt that Lyon would provide a more authentic experience for me. USAC is also way more affordable than most of the other programs I was looking into. My semester studying abroad was cheaper than a semester at my home university, ASU.

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

Well, I am pretty independent, so I did a lot of the application and visa materials on my own. However, USAC was a huge help in securing housing and enrolling me in the host university. It was less for me to worry about as I was about to make a huge lifestyle change. My university was very helpful in transferring the credits back so that I received full credit for my time abroad.

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

Budget your money! It is so easy to get swept away in it all and not think about finances.

It's okay to spend money on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but I think that one also has to weigh it against the pocketbook. It becomes especially difficult when it isn't the currency you're used to. I really wish someone had told me that.

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

I had an average of six hours of class per day. The classes during the day would focus on my French skills: oral comprehension, speaking, writing, reading and culture. This program also offers evening classes, so I had one class that would go pretty late into the evening. It was a class about the European Union.

My group of friends had rotating dinner assignments. So, we each chose a day where we would cook for the others.

On the weekends, we would travel or explore the city. When it warmed up, we would go to the park or even this little hidden beach off the Rhone. On weekend evenings, we would go to Vieux Lyon. We were regulars at a pub named James Joyce.

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

My biggest fear was that I would end up with no friends. I would just go about my time abroad alone. It's the biggest fear of an extrovert who thrives on social interaction. However, I immediately became friends with my roommate and many others who were also on the program.

The international students in my class seemed intimidating, but by the end of the semester, we were all joking around and bonding.

Outside of Lyon, what is your favorite place you visited?

My friends and I went to Nice for the Carnivale celebrations. There was a humongous parade and music. The whole city had a buzz of activity. Also, the city was very colorful, and we got to see the Mediterranean. We stayed at a hostel near the festivities.

It was only a weekend trip, but I would have loved to stay longer.