Fresh off a year’s study abroad experience at Blaise Pascal University (BPU) in Vichy, France, two recreation, parks and tourism students are glad to be back at Radford University. But both still think fondly of la belle France and their international experiences.
Emilie Moss and Sarah Bingham spent the 2010-11 academic year at BPU in an international business and French language program. Though technically a business track, their program enabled them to get nine hours of tourism credits for the year abroad, nine hours of general education credits and six foreign language credits.
“The festival of lights in Lyon at Christmas was amazing, and Vichy was like a painting, with its old tower on the hill overlooking the river,” said Moss, a junior from Charlottesville.
RU’s International Exchange Providers (IEP) allow RU students to pay RU tuition and fees while studying at a partner international school, and room and board to their host institution. BPU is one of nine partners in the IEP program. Teresa King, director of RU’s international education center, said the IEP program is ideal for students looking for an immersion experience.
Bingham, a senior from Roanoke who was making her first international trip, will attest to that. “I feel now that I can go anywhere and survive,” she said. “I had to deal with real life challenges like setting up a bank account, getting cell phone service and handling the schoolwork, all in another country.”
Bingham said it took her about two months to get comfortable in her new surroundings. Once she did, she and Moss made the most of the convenience of traveling in Europe, visiting the Alps for snowboarding, spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, basking on Barcelona’s beaches and traveling to Edinburgh for the world premiere of the final Harry Potter movie.
Moss said of her experiences, “I feel like I grew more mature and independent. I made some great friends and now have a network with connections all across the world.”
The two agreed that the international business academic program, taught in English, complemented their majors, and the language component provided a rich local experience. The program included courses in ethics, business in France and intercultural communication.
Doing business in France was another matter, Bingham said. “Waiting at the bank with five people in front of you could take an hour. It was the same at the post office. It was daily things you wouldn’t normally think about that took so long.”
She had four years of high school French that whetted her appetite for a French study abroad experience. Moss has family in the Vichy area and has been speaking French since birth. “We got the full French experience with two- or three-hour lunches and a lot of conversation, all in French,” Moss said.
Both said they were glad to return home and see family and friends, listen to American music and eat fast food instead of haute cuisine for a while.
Bingham recapped her year away from home this way: “I had a wonderful time. The experience of being around international students and learning to live in a completely different culture was well worth it.”