Ana Cervera is a junior Hospitality and Tourism Management major studying abroad in France for the Fall 2015 semester. Below are some questions we asked her to get the perspective of what it’s like to study abroad from someone who’s doing it right now. Bon courage, Ana!
What is the name of your program, and why did you choose it?
I am currently on an ISEP Exchange at the Université de Savoie in Chambéry, France. I chose this program because it gave me the ability to continue studying hospitality, while at the same time letting me improve my French proficiency. Since all of my courses are taught in French, I’m challenged everyday to really think in French and utilize the language skills that I have. Most of the people in my classes are French, so I’ve really been able to learn so much about the French culture and I’ve even been able to see the differences between the way that Americans view tourism and hospitality and the way that the French view them (which I think is so incredibly cool!).
You did a short-stay program this summer in Greece. How did that prepare you to spend an entire semester abroad?
My program in Ikaria was really great because I’d never been out of the country without my family, so it allowed me to kind of start getting in the mindset that I would need to have for the semester. I had to get used to eating foods that weren’t like the ones at home, I had to get used to missing my family and my friends. Ultimately, it truly helped me open up my mind to new experiences and memories. Because I had such a good time in Greece, I knew that I was going to have just as good of a time in France.
What was the most difficult part of the application process and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest challenge when applying was not a part of the application, but actually it was trying to convince myself to follow through with this. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of steps involved in applying to these programs (so it’s important to stay on track, to do everything as early as possible, and to keep an organized checklist). I was the girl who would tell everyone that one day she would be living in France. This was my absolute dream and yet when I had the actual opportunity to do just what I had always wanted to do, I was terrified. I dragged my heels when I was filling out the application. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t actually want this. Then, I was talking to one of my oldest and best friends and she basically told me that if I didn’t challenge myself, I was going to regret this for the rest of my life. I have so much to thank her for. This has been the biggest adventure of my life.
What do you miss most about the US? What will you miss most about France when you leave?
Oh man, I miss so many things. My family and my friends, Qdoba, people who understand my obsession with UK sports, grocery stores that are open 24/7… I’m going to be missing Thanksgiving, so that’s probably going to be a little bit tough, but my family sent me some pumpkin spice Oreos to substitute for pumpkin pie, so I think I’ll manage!
I’m truly going to miss the history that I’m surrounded with everyday. I mean, I literally walk by a castle every day on my way to school! I’m also going to miss the politeness of the French people. They literally say “hello” and “good bye” to every person they see. I’m also going to miss the adventure. Every day that I wake up, I get to see and try new things. I won’t ever get to live in Europe again! Oh, and I’ll also miss the pain au chocolats!
What advice do you have for someone that wants to study abroad?
If you’re even remotely thinking about studying abroad, just do it. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity twice and I would do it again in heartbeat if I could. Going abroad has made me more empathetic and understanding. I wouldn’t trade either one of my experiences for anything!
Photos courtesy of Zac Jones.
Zac Jones is junior at the University of Kentucky studying International Studies, Anthropology, and Japanese. Zac participated in the JShIP program at Osaka University during summer 2014.