I 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!
We 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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
Nantes, 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, English, 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!
The study abroad program at Audencia School of Management in Nantes, France has been amazing. Not only did I learn a lot from this trip in terms of school, but I learned a lot from my host family and the people that I met on this trip.
Being the only person from the University of Washington on this summer program was quite nerve racking. However, all of this changed on the first day of school as I learned that there were other people who were also here by themselves. I knew that the only way to not be uncomfortable for the upcoming six weeks was to throw myself into the crowd and meet as many people as possible. Now, I know almost everyone in this summer program because we hang out with each other in and out of class.
Another great thing about this program was getting the chance to interact with the French students. Interacting with them outside of class has allowed me to learn a lot about the French people and culture in such a short amount of time. It was a great opportunity for me as I get a chance to improve my French speaking skills.
As a student, this exchange program has been great, and every minute of it has been a learning experience for me whether it was good or bad. I would encourage everyone to participate in this study abroad program or any other abroad program that they are interested in because of the vast knowledge you will acquire in such a short time.
Summer classes at Audencia are very similar to that back at UW going from Monday to Thursday. Each class is two hours long with 5-10 minutes breaks in between. My day starts at 9 AM and ends at 1PM. After that, students usually go for lunch around campus or take the train to downtown. Lunch usually last from 1-2 hours every day because French people like to take their time to eat and enjoy. After lunch, there is French class for those students who are taking French. The class is broken into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advance.
The professors at this school are very energetic and full of enthusiasm. I enjoy their lectures because what they talk about is interesting. I learn so much everyday going to class, especially about the European Union.
During the weekend, many students travel around to different places such as Bordeaux, Barcelona, Interlaken, Munich, London, Marseille, and etc. Then when all of us meet again for class on Monday, people tell each other stories their weekend activities and all of the great things they did or see. However, at the same time there are many students who choose to stay in town and do sightseeing because Nantes is rich and full of amazing medieval buildings and artworks.
I’m Loc Nguyen, a senior at the Foster School, and I decided to study abroad this summer on a Foster School exchange. I’m participating in a six week program at Audencia Ecole de Management and will do some traveling following the program.
Today was a very fun day. My host mom cooked muscles for dinner with French fries and salad. Then, later in the evening, the French students invited the American students to hang out with them and get to know them a little bit more. It was a fun night as it gives me an opportunity to know other American kids and at the same time the French students. The French students took us to a bar “le lieu unique”. It was not new to me, but it was still a good time to hang out.
The group that I hang out with seems to be the most diverse out of all the groups. We have an Asian guy, a gay guy, white guy, European guy, European girl, black girl, black guy, and a farm boy. Haha. It’s nice hanging around with these people because we are so different from each other.