Saying goodbye: a letter to future students of France

It’s been three weeks since I concluded my semester in Aix and one week since I returned to the States. I have taken this time to reflect on what I learned, on how I’ve grown, and the differences and similarities between French and American culture. I wanted to take a moment before returning to you to offer my final thoughts.

If I could summarize in a sentence: time flies, so do it all. I wish I had studied in France for an entire year. I felt like I was just figuring things and tricks out and getting into the groove by the end of the semester, and I knew my French would improve so much more. That being said, I was surprised at how much my French progressed and I’m sure you will find yourself feeling the same.

If I may leave you with a few final suggestion…. Take advantage of the opportunity to have a language conversation partner. Working with French students helps not only your understanding of French language and culture, but also can lead to some meaningful friendships. When you are packing to move to France, try and cut down what you bring as much as possible. You can get all your basic items at French department stores like Monoprix. I know figuring out how to manage a phone plan abroad can be stressful, but I found getting a SIM card from the French company Free to be the easiest. It was just under 20 euros each month for basically unlimited calls (even to the US), texts and data. Many students want to use their semester in France to travel all through Europe. While this is a fun adventure, it can quickly drain your student budget. This is something to be conscious of. Besides, southern France has almost every type of geography you could desire!

I never wanted my posts to be just about my adventures, but more about lessons you could take from me. Things I learned that I felt were valuable to pass down. At the end of the day, you will find your own adventures. You will be the one that creates your own experiences. You don’t need someone to tell you how great their weekend was, you’re going to experience that very sentiment. When you study abroad you meet some very interesting people. Everyone has a different path they took to their time abroad, but we all share the value of expanding our education. What I learned from my peers was that you could either have a great time or a horrible time, it’s up to you. I met people who had the privilege to study abroad in a breathtaking place with wonderful educational opportunities, who chose to squander it by staying focused on what was back home. Don’t do that to yourself. You left to come to France for a reason. Find that reason and hold on to it.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me,

Elin J.

Aix en Provence, France

Spring 2019

Highlighting Student Art
End of semester art show for IAU’s art students.
Sunset Over the Art Show
Another gorgeous sunset over Aix.
Cat Cafe Celebs
During finals week my friends and I visited the local cat cafe to enjoy petting sweet cats and drinking tea.
Elin, Paul and Mary
My two close friends Paul (center) and Mary (right) on the day of graduation.
Plaza in the Sun
One of the defining fountains of Aix.
Gold Stole
My graduation stole hanging in the window of my host room.