Monday, February 27, 2012

Sarah C. - St. Etienne, France - Spring 2012

Saint-Etienne!  It’s not Paris, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s not awesome.  This has already been the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experience of my life – and it’s only been a month!  Getting here was half the fun.  I flew out of O’Hare and went to Zurich, Switzerland for a week to visit with family before coming to France.  After a lot of raclette cheese and INCREDIBLE views of the mountains, I took a 7 hour train ride into my new home.  I’m not going to lie, at first I was insanely overwhelmed.  I naively thought that after 4 years of French I would be able to get around without a problem, but it ended up being quite a bit trickier than I was expecting.  Just keep at it, after you’ve filled out all your residence forms and settled into your dorm it definitely does get better.  I’m so grateful for all the new friends that I’ve made.  Not only have they helped me improve on my language ability, but they’ve really made this feel like home.
I didn’t know much about Saint-Etienne before I came.  Whenever I typed it into Google, the most popular search results were for the British band that goes by the same name.  But once I arrived, I toured the city’s museum and found out that they are known for 3 things: Ribbons, Bicycles and Guns.  Quite an interesting combo, I know.  But it almost makes a weird kind of sense when you’re here.  Also, the entire city is built on top of mines that apparently played a big role in World War II.  The people here are always pretty excited to talk about it.
Meeting people has turned out to be one of the easiest things about the trip.  My school has a really big international program, and every Wednesday night is SAVA night which means that all the international students and some French students go out to a bar together to mingle.  It’s always crowded and it’s always a ton of fun.  I would recommend going to a smaller city because tourists aren’t nearly as common so the people are always friendly and interested in your views and opinions.
The biggest thing that I was worried about before I came was the classes.  I thought that I wouldn’t be able to follow what was going on and get behind in material, but it’s actually not bad at all.  Just tell your teachers that you are an international student and they’ll understand completely.  Mine are generally just happy that I show up.
I hope you guys are all getting excited because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I know that you’re going to love it!
Sarah Consoer, ISEP Saint-Etienne, France


Blogger Caity Nagel said...

Sounds like St. Etienne is wonderful! Would you say that getting around has gotten any easier with being there? Was it harder to adjust to the language or simply the culture? Have fun!


2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonjour Sarah,

St. Etienne a l’air formidable!
Je suis jalouse, et je voudrais y aller!

It's wonderful that you've been making lots of friends, especially since friendship in France has different cultural connotations than in the United States.

A quick question, do you have a cell phone that you are using while there? And if so, have you learned any French abbreviations for texting...such as "lol" but in French?

Bonne continuation,


3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
St. Etienne sounds amazing.
What would you say is the hardest part about your classes in France? You said that you told your teachers that you were an international student, are there a lot of international students in your class?
Hope you're having an incredible time!

--Lake (Ashley)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Linda K. said...

It sounds like such an awesome time that you're having while studying abroad. What were some cultural shock things that you had to deal with when you arrived in France?
Also what was the process that you had to go through when you were registering for classes?

3:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home