December in Aix

Hello from Aix!

It is finally December here in the south of France and I could not be happier. Don’t get me wrong, France is lovely. But at this point, I miss home so much that all I want to do is go back to Oregon and resume my normal life…

Town Square in the evening Christmas Tree

For this blog post, I want to give you an honest update of the past three months here and get some things off my chest that I have been holding back.

For those of you who don’t know, I came here to study wine. I enrolled in a Global Wine Studies Certificate program that was supposed to provide a unique wine-based education that I could not obtain at Linfield. I chose to take classes that I felt were closely aligned with my interests, namely the Food and Wine Paring for the Sommelier class, and the Wine Marketing and Analysis class. As a Wine Studies and Marketing double major, this seems like it would be a great fit, right?

I am so sad to say this, but I am very disappointed in this program. I don’t want to get into it too much, but needless to say, I feel frustrated that the program was marketed to me as one thing and hasn’t fulfilled those expectations at all. I’ve learned over the past month that the program experienced a substantial shift in structure right before the semester started, which left IAU scrambling to find a professor to fill the newfound void. The ramifications of this hastened hiring fell directly on the students, and unfortunately has resulted in a very dissatisfying semester.

I personally have been extremely discouraged with the situation and have wanted to say something but I feared I would come off as an “entitled American student that was just complaining.” I went back and forth trying to decide if saying something was the right thing to do, if the school would take me seriously or not, and whether or not I was the only student felt the way I did.

I finally decided that I couldn’t take it any longer, and I spoke up to the Administration. This turned out to be a good move that brought me an immense sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and it lifted the weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying around since the middle of September. It feels great when you are able to speak up for yourself in a professional, articulate, and genuine way. However, I am very remorseful that I don’t have better things to say about this program. There are some redeeming aspects and I have learned plenty of new information. But I came all this way for a niche wine education and I do not feel like I have received that.

At the end of the day, I hope that the purpose of this study abroad experience reveals itself to me sooner rather than later. I feel like the challenges I have faced are not often talked about, and I would love to share the nitty-gritty of daily life with anyone who wants to listen… but I won’t bore my readers with that!

I hope the best for other study abroad students, both those who are currently overseas as well as those who are gearing up to go. There are always things to learn, but sometime things go wrong that are out of your control. My best advice for you if you find yourself in this situation is to take it day-by-day and remember that it is all temporary.

Homemade hot wine English Christmas Carols at the Cathedral in AixPicture of Cassidy sitting on a bench

Hope you are well,

-Cassidy