Student Experiences: Matt

Matt in South of FrancePhoto:Visiting Calanques National Park in Marseille, France

Why did you want to study abroad, and where did you choose to go?
I chose to go to France (L'Institut de Touraine in Tours). In light of studying French in high school and being able to travel to France for the first time through an exchange, I added French as a second major at Oswego. I wanted to study abroad in order to take the language skills taught at a University in the United States, and enhance them in a country that was native to that language. I decided to study abroad because of a previous host family I had lived with as well, who I visited often during my semester.

Describe your campus and what student life was like:
The campus was very small, consisting of three smaller and older buildings. This in turn was the ideal size for me because it kept the student life and their relationships close. Although student life was rather relaxed and liberating, being at an all-French school required a lot of attention and determination. The school consisted of students from every point on the map and opened my eyes to not only the country I was studying in, but the lives and cultures of every individual I studied with. 

Eiffel Tower at night
Photo: The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France lit up at night with a full moon. 

Was there a language barrier? And if so, how were you able to get through it?
There is always a language barrier of some size no matter the destination, however I took that as fuel for the fire and surrounded myself with the language as much as possible to aid that. Getting through the language barrier became easier and easier as I learned repetition of the style of life and the language. 

Matt Abroad

What did you find most challenging throughout your experience?
The most challenging part throughout my experience was primarily pre-departure, choosing a program. Once everything was submitted, that challenge existed no longer because there was no wrong choice! Anywhere I could have gone was going to be an experience that I enjoyed.

What were your accommodations like?
I stayed with a host family during my semester. I chose this primarily as an experience I was familiar with, and to enhance my language ability when coming home at the end of the day and still being in a learning environment. Some like to steer towards residence and apartments, however a host family is worth giving a try for anyone that wants to try it!

Matt in Portugal

Photo: Matt in Porto, Portugal while traveling abroad

Did you travel to any other countries or cities while abroad?
From France, I had the opportunity to visit Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, Morocco, and many different regions in France (Paris, Rennes, Lyon, Marseille). Despite how it may seem, all were relatively affordable travels and the accommodations just the same. Europe is a wonderful continent to take advantage of cheaper travel!   

Overall, how was your experience? And do you have any tips for future students who may be interested in traveling to the same place as you? 
My experience overall was incredible to say the least. It was so simple to change my life for a few months that it did not feel right to come home and adapt to the way of life that is home for me. The biggest advice for anyone traveling to France or Europe is to make sure you explore when you are there. One of the biggest aspects many may not be aware of until they are there, is that you are always an affordable bus, train, or plane ride away from somewhere you may have not known you wanted to go. Europe is a land of completely different cultures, go travel!

Matt by water in France

 Photo: Matt was able to visit the beautiful Calanques National Park in the south of France with friends.