The actual filmmaking program at FAMU, which only accounted for about twenty percent of my misery, was pretty disappointing. Considering that it was a filmmaking program, I expected us to be doing a lot of the making part. In reality, we mostly just watched movies and talked about them. This was not completely useless, but it was leagues below the usefulness of actually learning by doing. I don't think I was unreasonable to expect something like, "This week we're learning about shot selection. Your homework is to make a thirty second film that employs the following technique." I did get to make one short film at the end of the semester, and that was admittedly a fantastic learning experience. But I didn't incorporate anything into my film that I learned in class because I basically learned nothing. Let me rephrase that. I was taught nothing.
The rest of my study abroad experience also less than ideal. I felt alone and depressed most of the time. It's hard for introverts like me to make friends quickly, which is exactly what you need to do when you study abroad. It was hard to be in a room with people for more than a short time without feeling like no one wanted me there. I'm not saying that no one wanted me there. That's just how your brain works when you're shy and socially anxious.
The point here isn't that my program sucked or that the people were terrible. CET tried their best to make everyone feel comfortable, and they organized plenty of fun events. As for the people, everyone I met was wonderfully nice and welcoming. The problem was my having trouble feeling comfortable around new people. Now, you might be thinking, "If you're so shy and introverted, why the heck did you do the program?" That's a very good point, and it brings me to why I wrote this review.
Chances are, if you ask someone who studied abroad how it was, they'll say it was great. Maybe even life changing. But there's a small chance (judging by my program, about 1 in 50) that they had a pretty miserable time. And if that's the case, they'll probably still smile and say it was fine. Because the people who don't enjoy studying abroad are the same ones who don't like to speak up. I heard so many positive stories from people that I honestly thought studying abroad was this magical experience that couldn't possibly go wrong. The fact is that it can go wrong, and people should be aware of that when deciding whether to do it. If there's anything you should take away from my review, it's this: there are a lot of people who should study abroad, but there's a chance you are not one of them.