Guest Blogger: Julie Martine Paquette
Study abroad is not about studying, no matter what your good intentions might be. We know how to study - we've been doing it for over a decade by this point. No, study abroad is about the little details (and the big ones) that separate you from home and teach you about yourself and about the world, not about your college major. Now, as a disclaimer, I did study while I was abroad, but I learned as much, if not more, outside the classroom.
My name is Julie, and I just returned from a semester in Antibes, France. I am a third-year Cultural Anthropology major with minors in Business Administration and History. I began my study of the French language when I was 12 years old. I was looking to continue my practice in France, and the Riviera program was the perfect fit.
I arrived at the peak of the summer season on the Riviera, so I enjoyed three full months of beautiful weather before the cold started to creep in. I kid you not - I was still swimming in November. In Antibes, I was situated between Cannes and Nice, two of France's most famous cities to the south. Both cities were only a short train ride away, as were the French Alps and the Italian border. My apartment was a ten-minute walk from the beach, and it was hard to find a place where you weren't in view of the sea.
Life in Antibes is not like city life. It's much more relaxed than Paris. Life slows down on the beach. I recommend studying there in the fall because, like I said, you start off in peak season. Still, if you want an unparalleled view and a "hidden gem" type of experience, this is the place. The food is delicious and diverse. There are boats everywhere, at all times - you can even take sailing classes with the university if you're so inclined. Most students live in apartments with other students from the abroad program. I lived in a homestay so that I could practice the language more. My host mom, Francoise, was an angel. She was an incredible cook (think fresh, homemade baguettes, daily), a reliable guide, and an great resource for learning the language.
As for the studies, SKEMA's business curriculum is challenging. You will take classes in your language of choice (French or English), but most classes are in English. What sets SKEMA apart is that it integrates its exchange students directly into the school with its "native" students, so you are not in a separate building like in many SA programs. Like any experience, the classes are what you make of them.
Finally, what makes the Sophia program so unique is the CEA experience. This program is small. There were only 10 of us, so it made for a truly personalized experience. We were constantly going on trips and having get-togethers planned by our program director and included (that means free) with the program. She provides an amazing support system. Having so few of us also allowed me to become close to an incredible group of people, with whom I still keep in touch. I can promise that between SKEMA's international student body and CEA's own diverse group of students, you will find companions with whom you can make memories.
If you want to learn more about my experience abroad, feel free to take a look at my blog, http://juliemartinepaquette.wordpress.com/category/sophia-antipolis/. It has pictures of Antibes as well as some other places I visited while I was there. This is not the typical study abroad experience. Keep your eyes open – there are opportunities everywhere. However, if you run out of things to do, there is always the beach.
Welcome to the Riviera, et bonne chance.