I’m Morgan a senior economics major at the University of Louisville and had the chance to spend my Spring 2016 semester in Bordeaux, France. I was abroad for 5 months with one of my closest friends from Louisville attending school in Spain. This was my first major trip that I had embarked on ‘alone’ or without someone that I know booking a plane ticket with me. Of course you do get a little nervous and come up with all the irrational ‘what-if’ scenarios, but once you take the plunge and go ahead on your own journey it is worth it a million times over.
I got to Bordeaux and was getting aquatinted with all of the study abroad students and making friends, we planned random weekend trips and scheduled our school breaks together, so I was rarely alone in my actual travels. Until my roommate decided to leave 4 months early and I found myself then living alone in a foreign city. Shortly after that small crisis, I realized that my visa for my stay in Europe was actually invalid due to inaccurate dates that were placed on it. (People take it from me, triple check that thing before hopping on a plane.) After a solid two weeks of feeling like I had maybe made a mistake in thinking I could conquer this entire semester abroad on my own, I regained the confidence I needed when I decided to venture to Madrid by myself.
I had to travel out to Madrid to get my visa validated by a French consulate outside of France, so I booked a round trip bus ticket and found myself heading south of Bordeaux during a much needed long weekend. At first I tried to get friends on my study abroad to join me and ease this fear that I would be lonely, but everyone had already booked other trips and this was my only free weekend so I decided to do it alone. I wasn’t just going to travel to Madrid for paperwork though; I was going to enjoy getting to know the Spanish way of life.
I spent four days in Madrid by myself, walking around the city, making friends at hostels, eating lunch alone, getting tapas with new found friends and exploring all the sites that Madrid had to offer. I imagined that my weekend would be spent walking around alone and me constantly staring at my phone to avoid the fact that it was just me at the dinner table, but what I found was making friends is so much easier than you would ever imagine and travelling alone is even enjoyable. I made friends where I was staying and most of them were also travelling alone, so it was nice to have companionship for a night out and people to grab brunch with in the daylight hours. It was also nice, however, to go walk around the city by myself and have coffee at a café without staring at my phone the whole time and soaking up the experience around me.
At least once during your study abroad adventure you’ll find that all of your newfound friends are busy one weekend, or are venturing out to places you might not be super interested in, and I highly recommend you take that time to go explore somewhere new on your own, even if it’s just a short train or bus ride away.
I am Morgan a senior economics major here at the University of Louisville. In Spring 2016 I had the chance to study abroad in Bordeaux, France and had the time of my life. I will save you the ‘my entire life changed’ story because that’s not what happened. I will say that it was a blast and being in Europe for 5 months before starting my senior year, and was one of the greatest experiences in my college career. So here are the top five reasons that you need should seriously consider studying in Bordeaux for the semester.
- The business school in Bordeaux is ideally built for juniors or seniors to get masters classes while still in undergraduate studies; it gives a very intriguing perspective on classes that you may see in an MBA setting. That does not necessarily mean that the classes are infinite times harder, but they can be challenging. The class schedule is also unique for the masters program because each class is a month long, meaning you can focus on one or two studies at a time. One last note on the classes are unlike anything you can take at UofL including sustainable marketing, economics of real estate, and my personal favorite wine marketing.
- City living was honestly one of the best parts of being in Bordeaux and the housing options were beautiful. While the school doesn’t have the traditional on-campus housing options and you can still do the homestay with a French family. However, what I did, and what I would do again, was find someone in the program to live with (via Facebook) and stay more in the city center. This not only gave me a good chance to get to know people that I was studying abroad with, but I also got to actually fulfill my dreams of living in a city by myself and exploring something new everyday; my new experiences were endless including restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, boutiques, the new neighborhoods, and the different public gardens. This was a unique experience to studying in Bordeaux because most programs require some kind of homestay or on-campus housing.
- The French lifestyle is THE best honestly on any given day you will see everyone outside enjoying the beautiful waterfront area and all the indoor/outdoor restaurants. Especially in Bordeaux you can see how leisurely life in France is. Even on days that you seem to have run out of entertainment or items to keep you occupied, or you just want a day without stress; you can embark on ‘getting cultured’ and soaking up the ease of the French lifestyle.
- The access to travel not only in France but also to other countries is super easy. Bordeaux has there own train station and airport, and they are working on an even faster train to Paris (seriously less than three hours) for even more accessible and cheaper travel! Some of my favorite places to go were Marseille, Nice, Paris, Dublin, Ireland, and Marrakech, Morocco.
- You didn’t think I wouldn’t mention wine, did you? Part of the French leisurely lifestyle is enjoying all of the culture that Bordeaux has to offer. Bordeaux is one of the largest wine exports in France and its largest economic product surrounds so much of the culture. You will see people enjoying glasses of red during lunch and people carrying bottles of wine around the city. I would definitely suggest visiting chateaus and vineyards to really soak up the experience.