Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Loving Life In Lyon

Q&A with Kristina: Studied in France
Share this
Print this
Kristina
Studied in France
Carleton University
Her thoughts on Motivation
Studying international business was a good reason to go abroad and experience how globalization has affected the business world.
Her thoughts on The Application Process
The visa application process is long and confusing. There was definitely a lot of confusion along the way. But don't be discouraged; it's completely doable.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Read a lot! Read about the history, culture, and people of the city you're planning on staying in. Gather as much information as you possibly can.
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
Through Facebook I signed up for a few exchange student groups in my host cities, which allowed me to participate in events they organized and get to know a lot of people.
Her thoughts on Language Learning
The big success for me was the fact that my language skills improved tremendously. I came to Lyon barely being able to keep up with a conversation and left being able to speak with ease.
Her thoughts on Boosting Your Career
During my stay I was able to network a lot and meet not only other students, but also professionals.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
My travels also improved my communication skills, my cultural understanding, independence, leadership skills, and helped me develop a thicker skin.

When and where did you study abroad?

I studied in Lyon, France at l'Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3.

What made you want to study abroad?

Studying abroad had been my goal since I began thinking about university, which is why I chose a program at Carleton that had it as a requirement. I love learning about different cultures, seeing new sights, and getting to know new people. I wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and experience something new, something exciting. Studying international business also was a good reason to go abroad and experience how globalization has affected the business world. Traveling is just one of my passions.

Do you have any tips on writing visa applications and preparing for a study abroad term? What was your visa application process like?

My number one tip is START EARLY! I think you will hear this from everyone. The visa application process is long and confusing. I had to apply through the French consulate and there was definitely a lot of confusion along the way. But don't be discouraged. It's completely doable. You just need to start a few months in advance of your departure date so that if any questions come up you always have enough time to deal with them. I also want to say something about preparing for study abroad. Read a lot! Read about other people's experiences in the host city where you're planning to travel. Meet with former exchange students. Read about the history, culture, and people of the city you're planning on staying in. Gather as much information as you possibly can. Your home university probably has a student exchange office where it would be easy to get in contact with a student from your host university or city, who can explain a few things to you and give great advice. Also, practice your language skills as much as you can beforehand. If you don't know any of the language, try to buy a phrasebook and learn. If you've studied before, find someone with whom to practice!

What was the biggest surprise about your study abroad experience?

I was surprised how many exchange students were at my host university. There was such a large sense of community among students from all over the world. It was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life! Through Facebook I signed up for a few exchange student groups in my host cities, which allowed me to participate in events they organized and get to know a lot of people. Now I have a couch to sleep on in every country in Europe. I was also surprised at how cheap the travel was there. Obviously there's still a lot of air travel, which can be quite expensive. But if you plan ahead, and use carpooling, trains (which have discounts for students) and couch surfing, your travels can cost just pennies and you can see everything you've ever dreamed of.

Did you participate in extra-curricular or social activities abroad?

As I've mentioned earlier I took the opportunity to participate in more than one exchange student club in order to access activities. I was a part of the Erasmus Lyon group (Erasmus is a term often used in Europe to refer to exchange students because it's the name of their exchange program) and I also made sure to keep up with the International Relations Office (aka International Student Office) at my host institution. Both groups offered different activities, some of which included: going to ski in the Alps, going to a wine tasting festival, weekly club parties, tickets to various networking opportunities, wine and cheese, trips to nearby cities, and more. It was really wonderful because most were either free or very cheap, which was very helpful given my tight budget. Thanks to these groups I was able once again to meet people and experience a lot of things without spending a fortune.

What made your study experience abroad a success?

The big success for me was the fact that my language skills improved tremendously. I came to Lyon barely being able to keep up with a conversation and left being able to speak with ease.

What international career skills did you develop?

During my stay I was able to network a lot and meet not only other students, but also professionals. Through a friend I was even able to find a small internship at a French firm, which allowed me to experience the French business environment and make a lot of contacts. It was a great experience and a very challenging one. I was able to apply my skills in English to my internship by proofreading different English documents and assisting with other mundane tasks. I know that this experience prepared me to work in France once I finish this year and graduate. My travels also improved my communication skills, my cultural understanding, independence, leadership skills, and helped me develop a thicker skin.

How did you deal with the culture shock/cultural divide?

Knowing I was going to France I thought I wouldn't experience culture shock considering that it's a developed country and the differences would be language and cuisine. Boy, was I wrong! My first four months in Lyon were difficult. I was away from everything and everyone I knew, experiencing things that made no sense to me. Things like the different business hours of stores, services, and basically everything. They tend to take a two-hour lunch, and some offices in universities only work three or four days a week.

The educational structure in France is completely different. Here in Canada we get a textbook, PowerPoint slides and the professor lecturing with handouts. Professors have office hours and there are many resources like computers, study spaces and good wifi connections. In France none of this exists! You have to come to lecture and listen the professor; that's your only source of information. There are no slides, and no books. Internet is barely used for anything, all class schedules must be found on specific display boards, and even some registration is paper-based. The way I dealt with this was by asking a lot of questions. The International Relations Office was my go-to place for advice. If I couldn't figure it out myself I would go there. Also I bought a recorder and recorded all lectures so that I could listen to them later. I also made as many friends in class as possible so that if I had to miss class I would have someone else's notes. Everything else you just adjust to along the way. Just take your time, remember everything will figure itself out; and don't ever be afraid to ask a lot of questions, people are there to help you!

What was the most important thing you learned about cross-cultural communication while you were studying abroad?

First thing to get used to was the way to greet people. In France (as in many other European cultures) it is appropriate to kiss on the cheek twice when you're meeting someone for the first time, or in general. I am the kind of person who likes my space so that took a little while to get used to but I realized that it was important to adhere to this as people found it rude otherwise. Basically communication is very different overall. My advice is to take your time and be patient and observe. Make sure you're paying attention to how others communicate and adjust just enough without compromising your core beliefs. If there ever comes a time where you're uncomfortable or unsure, don't be afraid just ask! Say that you're not from around there and that you're not sure how to behave or just go with the flow. If you see that you've offended someone unintentionally, apologize and explain that you're adjusting. Enjoy the learning process!

What was your return like?

My return was bittersweet. I know many fellow students who have returned recently and they experienced the same withdrawal symptoms. We were all happy to see our families and be back to our familiar surroundings, but things weren't quite the same. The experience was so big and exciting that getting back to your normal life seems boring in comparison. I decided that for the last year of my studies I'd make sure to keep in touch with everyone from Europe and see if some of them would visit here so I could continue to work on my language skills.

What are your future plans for your career and going abroad?

Until graduation I'll be focusing on school and improving my language skills. Once I graduate, I plan to apply for every job possible in my host city (Lyon) and the south of France, and move there. I've been inspired by Europe so much, by the culture, by the architecture, by the traveling; I realized that I want to continue my life there. This experience has completely changed my outlook on life. It has broadened my horizons and expectations. I cannot wait to see what my next experience abroad will be like.

As I may have mentioned, I plan on traveling all over the world during the span of my entire life, and hope to step foot in most countries. In regards to my career I hope to get a job with a consulting firm upon my graduation. I am looking to apply for jobs specifically in France, as I hope to live in Lyon for a while, but I will also be looking for something in countries all over Europe. I found a few websites where I can post my resume for companies to see all over the world. I hope that my experience and education in Canada will be of value abroad. I am currently working on turning my resume into a CV, in order to do this I was referred by many professionals to look at MyWorldAbroad as a good source and guide on how to write a good CV. My ultimate goal would be to have a job that allows me to travel to many different places.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Kristina paints a vivid picture of the culture shock she experienced upon arriving in her host country, and the subsequent process of integrating into French culture. Although she had a life-changing experience in France, we suggest that Kristina consider participating in a summer volunteer, intern or English teaching term in another region of the world before committing to a long-term stay in France. Experiencing a new foreign culture will build her adaptation skills, challenge her communication skills, and further build her international resume. She might consider, for instance, undertaking a volunteer term with an NGO in a French-speaking African nation, which would allow her to continue using her significant language skills, while building new and valuable cross-cultural experience.

Kristina's Application Documents
See how She got started.
Kristina's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The 4-Year Global Mindset Map!
Don't miss your blueprint for success! Set goals & take action to build the Global You.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
9789
- # of # Filtered -
  • 99
99
16312
Virtual Internship for a Cross-cultural Future
1
16320
Independent, International, Virtual! A UN Internship Online
2
16316
Exploring the Sights, Sounds & Tastes of Mexico City
3
16157
Zoom Zoom! A Virtual Internship with Central America
4
9756
Springtime In Spain
5
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
6
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
7
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
8
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
9
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
10
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
11
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
12
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
13
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
14
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
15
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
16
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
17
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
18
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
19
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
20
9754
Building Memories In India
21
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
22
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
23
9748
Adventure In The Alps
24
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
25
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
26
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
27
9762
American Freshman In London
28
9771
Learning To Love London
29
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
30
9773
Independent In India
31
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
32
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
33
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
34
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
35
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
36
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
37
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
38
9753
A Season in Sweden
39
9765
Simpatico in Florence
40
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
41
9737
Passionate About Panama
42
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
43
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
44
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
45
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
46
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
47
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
48
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
49
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
50
16174
An Empowering Virtual Internship in Nicaragua
51
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
52
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
53
16161
A Bright & Friendly Cross-cultural Workspace
54
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
55
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
56
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
57
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
58
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
59
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
60
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
61
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
62
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
63
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
64
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
65
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
66
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
67
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
68
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
69
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
70
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
71
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
72
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
73
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
74
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
75
9752
Giving In Guatemala
76
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
77
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
78
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
79
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
80
9787
A Spring Semester in London
81
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
82
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
83
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
84
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
85
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
86
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
87
10851
Tips From Tasmania
88
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
89
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
90
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
91
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
92
10157
Changing Course In China
93
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
94
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
95
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
96
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
97
10192
Out And About In Paris
98
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
99
9789
All Job Boards
463
All NGOs
1428
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
53
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
27
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
309
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
492
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
108
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
29
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
26
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
99
Study Abroad Resources
186
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
99
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
72
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
85
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
88
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73