Alumni Spotlight: Kirstyn Schaefer

Kirstyn Schaefer, a 21 year old senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, attended Le College Internationale de Cannes in Cannes, France in July of 2012 for 6 weeks. She is graduating in December 2013 with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in French and plans to attend medical school next fall.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

kirstyn schaefer

Kirstyn: The most meaningful experience I had in Cannes that I couldn’t have here in the United States was being able to attend class and live among so many other students from all over the world. I sat in class daily with individuals from England, Colombia, Spain and Switzerland.

Having the opportunity to learn one-on-one about them, hear their perspectives and opinions and observe their different cultural norms was amazing to me. This is especially hard to find at my home university so I was really excited to be able to experience it while in Cannes.

What did AIFS in Cannes do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Kirstyn: AIFS did so much for me! They booked my flight to France, transported me to and from the airport and planned and coordinated all of the excursions and trips we went on as a group. While in Cannes, the resident director was always available if we needed her, as she had an office right on campus. When I was sick, she helped me see the doctor and get my medicine at the pharmacy across the street. She assisted me with getting placed into the correct class I needed to fulfill my minor. AIFS did all of this and so much more! The only things I had to do on my own were attend my classes and have fun!

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

Kirstyn: The French are seriously a lot nicer than people think they are! If you try to speak their language, they greatly appreciate it. They may correct you if you say something wrong, but only because they love their language and want to help you get better! The whole culture of Cannes is especially laid back and they are never in a hurry. They especially love their dogs and bring them everywhere, whether it’s shopping or out to eat. They stay out late and boys love to holler at girls walking down the street.

If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?

Kirstyn: If I could do-over one thing during my trip it would be to travel outside of the country more. Although I was only there for 6 weeks and one weekend was spent in Paris, most of the other people in my group traveled every weekend so it definitely is possible! Being so close to other countries, experiences and cultures, I wish I would have taken the opportunity while I was there! It can be expensive, but there are ways to cut costs if you’re smart about it. Taking the train is a great alternative for pricey airfare!

kirstyn schaefer cannes france

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

Kirstyn: My most meaningful souvenir would be my one-of-a-kind dancer figure made out of various metal scraps, nuts and bolts made by a local artist in Cannes. It sits on my dresser at home and everyday I see it I am reminded of the amazing six weeks I spent by the Mediterranean Sea. No cheesy souvenir can ever top the one-of-a-kind piece I treasure so dearly!