Journey to the French Atlantic Coast

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster undergraduate


An amazing thing about Nantes is its close proximity to the beach. It happens to be a quick 45 min train ride to the beautiful French coastal city of La Baule. On two separate weeks me and my crew of multicultural adventurers made the journey to La Baule. Our first trip to La Baule was plagued by inclement weather. We had gone to see a triathlon that was being set up by the French students from Audencia. The day ended poorly after frigid weather and rain forced our early egress from the city. The highlight of the day being when one poor French student organizer got thrown into ocean by his comrades after the swimming portion of the triathlon was drawing to a close.

The next weekend we repeated our trek to La Baule in a very packed TGV train. This time the forecast was fantastic and we were not alone in wanting use the last expected weekend of good weather before the fall cold really set in – it seemed like half of Nantes was with us. Our day at the beach was much more enjoyable this time around. We hung out on the beach, took in some sun, listened to electro music (the Europeans are obsessed with electro), drank some wine, hit the water, and even played a pick-up game of beach soccer in which my American led contingent dominated the match. Afterwards we all grabbed the very delicious and highly addictive doner kebabs (sliced meat served in a pita often with French fries – as opposed to meat on stick) to cap off a great afternoon. All in all it was one amazing day in which I came back exhausted but at the same time refreshed – ready to take on the next adventure France had in store.


A day of “Chateauing” in France

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster Undergraduate

A great part about going to Audencia is the International Connection Team (commonly referred to as the IC Team). Audencia has a large amount of exchange students. This is largely due to a requirement that each Audencia student has to spend a semester aboard before they can graduate which means that have a lot of partnerships with universities all over the world, and consequently a lot of students doing an exchange at Audencia. For example, in one of my classes there were students from France, Germany, Spain, Austria, The Unites States, China, the Philippines, Korea, India, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, Nigeria, and Brazil – all in one class!!! The IC Team’s job is to help integrate all of these internationals students into the Audencia community and help make their time at Audencia incredible – quite the daunting task. As part of this mission they would frequently organize events and excursions, once such excursion was a day trip to two Chateaus in France – complete with a wine tasting, a classic French picnic and 6 hours of driving all over France’s Western Loire region.



The day started early with the charter bus leaving Audencia around 8am. We proceeded to go the first Chateau. Where we were given a grand tour of the subterranean residence where some of the Chateaus first occupants would flee to in times of siege. We also toured their ancient kitchens and some residential rooms. At the conclusion of the tour we tasted some wine from the Chateau’s very own vineyards. We then proceeded to have an enormous French picnic which consists of several key elements, they are: wine, banquets, salami, cheese, and more wine. Afterwards we continued on to the next Chateau. Most of the group passed out at this point but not before the IC team president got done interviewing trip attendees from different countries. Being an American I was not exempt from this and got grilled in front of the entire bus on such exciting topics as: French government officals (could I name the PM of France?), the French Language, French culture, and French women. Finally we arrive at the second and final Chateau. This huge chateau was chalk full of tourists and was built onto a river. I toured the Chateau’s extensive gardens while making deepening connections with other international students. The whole trip was very satisfying and we concluded the day with a group photo. A group of students from all different backgrounds brought together to enjoy beautiful ancient architecture, French history, good wine, and most importantly – good company.


Thanksgiving in France

Thursday, November 28th, 2013


Written by Nashua Springberry, Foster Undergraduate

Believe it or not almost no other country on the planet celebrates thanksgiving with the sole exception being Canada (but let’s be honest they celebrate it on the wrong day anyway). A great part of studying abroad is sharing your cultural rituals and traditions with other people. In my program there was only four other Americans besides me and one of these four Americans, my good friend Kelsey, was determined  to share the great holiday of Thanksgiving with all of our new internationals friends – all of whom (besides those Canadians) had never had a Thanksgiving dinner before in their lives! So Kelsey made a casual post on our communal facebook group page inviting anyone and everyone to join her for Thanksgiving dinner – she would just need some volunteers to help cook and everyone to chip in ten dollars so she can go grocery shopping and buy all the necessary goodies.

Well turns out our international friends were dying to experience a Thanksgiving dinner and the amount of interest was overwhelming. All told Kelsey had 48 people sign up for Thanksgiving dinner. She then frantically went up trying to deliver on the promised dinner. Let me tell you, you would think cooking dinner for 48 people would be impossible – try buying 48 peoples worth of thanksgiving food at a French grocery store – the same grocery stores that didn’t sell full turkeys. In the end we settled on 13 chickens, vast quantities of potatoes, enough homemade stuffing material for a small town (I’m still sure there are leftovers), multiple jugs of wine, and an immense amount of ice cream. Getting all of that home using one shopping cart and three people was almost has hard as making the dinner itself. After much labor and volunteer work we completed the American feast. Before digging in on that joyus Thursday everyone went around the room saying what they were thankful for – in true American style – with a French twist.

Audencia: Don’t Stop Me Now!

Friday, January 28th, 2011

And Now, the End is Near…

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Audencia3I have less than a month left in Nantes and at Audencia. Finals are coming up, which are the majority of our grades here. Although I’m dreading finals, I’m looking forward leaving everyone I have grown so close even less. I don’t want to leave my host family, the fun events that Audencia organizes, or the international students. I completely underestimated Audencia. I know how cliché it sounds, but it’s also the truth. Being here has been one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t figure out if I just got really lucky with my experience at Audencia, or if this is how it is every year. Either way, I want to go back!

Integration Weekend

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Audencia2We had integration weekend last week with the IC Team. I paid 90 euros to go on a trip organized by some of the students at Audencia with two buses of international students. I had my doubts at first about whether it was worthwhile or not. It was! We went to Bordeaux and had a tour of the city and a small wine tasting. We were all pretty cold and I was feeling tired by the end of our time in town. We walked back to our hotel and then went to a restaurant where we had a three course meal. The next day was the most memorable though! We took a boat ride and went to a giant sand dune for lunch. After our picnic, we all climbed to the top and took lots of photos. Some people ran down the other side of it. Although I was tempted, I decided not to run down it because I knew how bad the walk back up would have been. It was lots of fun to watch everyone who did it though. The view was stunning. On one side we had the water, and on the other we looked out onto a forest. I also spent a lot of time talking to French students.

The Goldilocks City

Saturday, November 27th, 2010


I’ve spent three weeks in Nantes and have about three months left. I can already see that I will be sad because I am only studying here for four months. I am jealous of the other exchange students who get to stay here for the year. At Audencia I have met so many international students; they come from all parts of the world. Everyone has something that makes them unique. Audencia is also great because it has an international connection team, which is made up of French students. These students organize events for the international students to get to know one another and French students as well. 

 Nantes is what I call the Goldilocks city. Nantes is the perfect size. It’s not too big and not too small. If I had studied in Paris, I never would have gotten to know people on a close basis. Although I’ve always loved cities, I think I would have gotten tired if I had lived in Paris and had to deal with chaos on my commutes every day. Nantes is however big enough to have a downtown and multiple shopping centers. It’s also has multiple universities and is something to the effect of a student town. It’s going to be a great place to spend three more months!

Au revoir France!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009
Place Royale in Nantes

Place Royale in Nantes

Well I’m finishing up my very last days here in France and am so sleep deprived I’m half delirious. But I can sleep when I’m in the states! There’s just so much I still want to do and see before I leave, how can I waste this precious time sleeping?! This last week has really been something special! First of all, it was finals week – I said special not necessarily fun! And as international students were starting to return to their respective countries of origin, nearly every night of this last week there was a goodbye party for my new friends (hence the lack of sleep).  Also something very special happened Friday morning – it snowed in Nantes! Something I was told almost never happens. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me and it was mostly melted away by the time I got out of my final. That’s one or two monumental photo opportunities missed because I did not have my camera with me. The other? A Heineken beer truck back up to Audencia and off loading – priceless!

But I brought my camera with me for my last day trip to Paris where there was still snow on the ground in the parks – another first for me! That was amazing, because I

A picture of one of the last school-wide parties. In here, there are 13 people representing 8 countries (France, Germany, Finland, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, the Czech Republic and the United States).

A picture of one of the last school-wide parties. In here, there are 13 people representing 8 countries (France, Germany, Finland, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, the Czech Republic and the United States).

was running on only two hours of sleep but had enough energy to run around the city buying the last of my Christmas presents, return to Nantes and at exactly 12am today ventured forth to the last “last party” in Nantes. As I said, we had a lot of those that week.  I honestly don’t know how I did that! The rest of today has been spent packing as I leave tomorrow.

I have to admit I’m looking forward to returning to the US for Christmas, but am immensely jealous of the international students I know who are studying in Nantes for a whole year. After Christmas, I want to come back!

Looking back on my whole experience, if I could pin-point the single best reason to study abroad with this program, it would be for the people that you get to meet, French and foreign. You learn about so many other cultures! Talking about political perspectives with people from Russia and Turkey, discussing philosophy with a guy from Finland, gossiping with girls from Belgium and Germany, mocking international accents with Moroccans and telling jokes with the French (or more accurately trying to understand the jokes told). You learn something from every interaction.  And while I don’t regret a single mile I traveled in Europe and look forward to exploring more in the future, some of my fondest memories of my experience here consist simply of long conversations over a café au lait.

Snow in Paris

Snow in Paris

Settling in

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Tori (1)So far it has been great in Nantes, a small, yet beautiful city 2 hours outside of Paris. I am attending Audencia Ecole de Management, a top ranked business school in France with numerous other exchange students! There are about 130 or so, 3 of which are from the US, a majority from other European countries, and then many from Korea, China, the Philippines, and there are about 10 students from Africa as well! As you can see it is quite a diverse population. For some reason I had imagined there being more students from the US, but I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise in the way that I am pushed to make friends with students from other countries. Having done so, I am having the time of my life! The exchange students and the regularly enrolled French students are all so friendly and eager to create friendships and the school has an “international connection team” that organizes many events for us inside and outside of school.

School here is very different in comparison to the UW. Students here are first required to take about 10 required classes of various business materials per semester before they can start specializing in any sort of concentration. Each week our class schedules change and we must check online to see what classes we will have, at what day and time, and the location. It’s it a bit annoying because it’s so unpredictable and prevents any planning you want to make for the future. However, this ever-changing schedule tends to leave us with three or four-day weekends which are quite nice! So I won’t complain too much.Tori

Class sessions include a lot of group work or in class work and less of a lecture type style. Some classes are up to four hours long! (And we thought our 2-hour blocks were bad) There is rarely any homework and only reading and case studies to prepare before coming to class. Most of our grade assessment will come from our final exams only. EEEK! I’m sure panic will arise as we approach December!!

Hope this provides a small feel for the education program at Audencia! More to come later.

Bonjour à tous

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

DSCN2488Nantes, France is famous for LU Biscuits and rain (although the weather has been very nice thus far). The city itself is easy to navigate. It is not overwhelmingly large, and you can master the tramway system on your first ride. There are beautiful gardens like le jardin des plantes and Beaujoire, historic hotspots like le Château des Ducs de Bretagne and an abundance of restaurants and bars.

Before coming here, I did not anticipate just how many different cultures I would meet. Here at Audencia Ecole de Management, there are foreign students from all over the world studying in French or English. I’ve meet students from Korea, China, Morocco, Ireland, Turkey, Russia, Portugal, Uruguay and of course France. The International Connection Team (IC Team) here really takes care of the international students and are always planning parties and social events. A few weeks ago I went to a bar party arranged by the IC Team and because of the mix of people and the different capabilities in speaking French (that range from fluent to none), at any one time, you had French, DSCN2477English, German and Spanish being spoken around the bar. It was quite an experience!

While the weather was still warm, I made some trips out to the smaller coastal towns (less than an hour away by train) to see the beaches. La Baule is a popular destination for students, and I’m not surprised! The beach was spacious and beautiful but more importantly, there were sea shells everywhere! I’ve never seen anything like it in Washington! There were so many shells that when the waves washed over them, it sounded like a rain stick!

A tout à l’heure!