As May rolls around, I canâ€™t believe that I have lived in France for so long and that this wonderful experience will come to an end in about six weeks. This truly has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I wouldnâ€™t have traded it for the world. If given the opportunity, I recommend that every student studyâ€™s abroad during their college career. The time spent over here has taught me so much about myself and my culture, as well as an appreciation for other cultures throughout the world. While the majority of the international students at BeM speak English fluently, they come from all over the world and I have made friends with people from pretty much every continent. The intermingling of all the different cultures has truly made me more aware of the differences and taught me how to work with them in terms of business and everyday life.
In terms of school, BeM is quite different than Louisville. The courses are broken up into three week sequences, one course per three weeks. Generally, we have class from 8:30-4:30 (with breaks) but there are a lot of half days and days without class so it never becomes overwhelming. Due to the fact that a course is so short, there arenâ€™t many written exams or finals but we do have group projects which usually consist of a large paper and presentation analyzing a companyâ€™s strengths, weaknesses, risks, innovations, etc. These projects are where the cultural dynamics really come into play. You see which aspects of business each culture views as important and adjust the project to cater to these different aspects and work ethics. So far, I have taken two business courses in English, one French language course, one French business course, and will finish the semester with two more French business courses. The French courses have proved to be quite challenging but manageable. I have learned so much about French business as well as the language itself. Donâ€™t worry though, students are not required to take courses in French and most of the internationals stick with the English courses. The student life is also slightly different too. The school is much smaller, 1,500-2,000 students; however, there are plenty of organizations to join such as the wine club, cinema club, sports club, or Melting Potes (international club.) Each of these organizations hosts parties and other events for students both in and out of their organizations so itâ€™s easy to meet non-internationals as well as becoming integrated into the school.
The city itself is stunning and in my opinion one of the most beautiful in France. The city sprawls out throughout the red-wine region of France but the majority of the historical monuments, parks, boutiques/shopping districts, and old restaurants are located in the Centre Ville. If you do plan to come here I highly recommend that you only look for apartments in the city center. Everything is easily accessible by foot (no more than a 20 minute walk anywhere) but there are three tram lines that meet up here and go all throughout the city. Its relatively inexpensive 1.4 euro per trip or about 25 euro for an unlimited monthly pass. The city just implemented a new bike rental program where you can pick up a city bike at most tram stops. Itâ€™s free for a half hour and 1 or 2 euro for the day. I know a lot of people who ride them to school every morning but they are also convenient to use after the trams stop and you want a fast way home. Throughout Bordeaux there are a ton of cute shops and cafes so itâ€™s a great city to just walk around or people watch from time to time. Now that the weather has become nicer, the city has become much more alive with people everywhere. We have made it a habit to spend afternoons in the Jardin Publique or along the Quai to just hang out. Bordeaux is about 40 minutes by train away from lovely beach cities which also make fun weekend or afternoon activities!
Traveling in Europe during a study abroad is a must. Since you will already be over here, I recommend going to as many different countries as your budget will allow. I recently returned from a trip to Greece for about 5 days, but I have also visited cities in Spain and France. This is the best age to visit famous cities since the majority of tourist sites are discounted or free for EU students. The majority of what you spend money on is transportation, food, and living. Traveling is super easy and itâ€™s always possible to find cheap planes through RyanAir or EasyJet (just beware of their additional fees and know exactly which airport they are taking you to.) Trains are another easy way to travel especially in France. If you come, get the 12-25 card which costs 50 euro but gives you at least half off of every train ticket you purchase; mine paid for itself after 3 tickets.
I cannot express enough how amazing this experience has been and one that I think every student at U of L should make. If you have any questions about BeM or study abroad in general please contact me!