I am studying French culture and society in Pau, France. I chose Pau because it has a rich history. The culture is greatly influenced by the English that came here during the 18th century. You can find the French people of this region drinking Earl Grey tea for breakfast, something that is not common in the rest of the country. I also chose Pau because it is minutes away from the Basque Country. As linguistics major, I am required to study a non-Indo European language. Basque is one among the few mysterious languages of the world. The origin is still unknown.
I think that studying abroad is an incredible opportunity every student should take. This all sounds fun and exciting until you calculate how much living abroad costs. In reality, if you go through a SUNY program, it comes out to be about the same. If attending SUNY already poses difficulties, I would suggest taking out loans. It's worth every penny. When considering housing options, ask yourself what is most important to you. I chose to live with a host-family instead of renting an apartment with other students. In retrospect, maybe I should have lived with other foreign students. In the beginning, it was difficult to get along with my host-mother and her son. As time went on, I became accustomed to the cultural differences that were getting in the way. The only real cultural shocks have been with the family. Keep in mind though, it's always going to be difficult to get along with new parents who have a new set of rules. In addition, these parents and their rules are in another language. Give it time!!!
Not only is everyday life in French, but I am able to speak Spanish and English to the other foreign students. It's funny to think that getting to know people from different parts of your home country is just as exciting! I am experiencing everything (and much, much more) that I have read about France. Some stereotypes are true, some are not. Are cheeses, baguettes, and wine a staple food in France? ABSOLUTELY. Do people ride bikes and vespas everywhere? YEP. Is there a lot of political tension between the US and France? Yes and No. I write about this because when I told some friends that I was studying in France, I was warned about the French hating everything that is the US. I didn't let this discourage me because I felt it necessary to experience it first-hand. I am having the time of my life.