Meet One: Nikita in Grenoble, France!

 
Nikita in Grenoble, France
The number varies depending on the source, but African-Americans make up about 3% of the study abroad participants here in the U.S. – meet one of them: Nikita, who believes that whether it’s for 2 weeks or a whole school year, everyone should pursue the opportunity to experience another culture!

 

Home school/home town: Howard University/Beltsville (PG County), Maryland

Study Abroad Location and Program: AIFS Grenoble, France (Grenoble École de Management)

When: Junior year, Spring semester, 2006 

Why did you choose to study abroad? I feel like always knew I wanted to study abroad. I can’t think of the first time I heard about the opportunity or learned of the possibility, but I remember going straight to the study abroad office the first month as a freshman at Howard and asking what I needed to do. I was told that I was way too early and that I had lots of time to get everything in order! I used that time to figure out how I was going to pay for the program (i.e. scholarships and internships). 

Why did you choose your particular city? Ever since I started studying French in high school, I dreamed of visiting France. I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to visit a country I had grown to love in my mind as well as practice the language I adored so much. Originally, like most people, I planned on going to Paris. However, I ended up choosing Grenoble, France because there was a business program there that would allow me to take my international business classed in a truly global environment (the program was small and had students from over 50 countries). I also thought it would be a better environment for me to practice my French since less people would speak English to me around the city than in Paris. 

How were the classes? Were they similar or different from the ones at Howard? My classes were amazing. I took classes specific to my international business major such as international marketing and international business law. This was such an awesome environment to take these classes because I had professors from all over Europe with experience in the field as well as a diverse group of students surrounding me. For example, our final international marketing project was done in groups of 4-5 students, each with very different backgrounds.  I’m a young African-American woman from a more urban area of the east coast and I was on a team with a Midwestern American female who grew up on a farm, a Russian male, a Mexican female and a Vietnamese-American female. This was by far the most enriching academic experience I had in college. 

Click more to hear about the rest of Nikita’s experience! You don’t want to miss it – especially the photos of horseback riding in France!

Had you traveled outside the U.S. before this experience? Since this experience? Yes, I traveled to the Caribbean regularly before this to visit family during the summer. After this experience, I worked in London for a summer internship and, after graduating, visited Mexico alone and on a whim to take intensive Spanish courses for a month. 

What were some of your biggest adjustments living in your new city? I lived with a homestay. She was a 30 something single woman who worked as an English teacher in a local school. I think the biggest adjustment for me was getting comfortable in my new home while being respectful of her space. 

How has study abroad changed your views of the world? changed your views of the U.S.? changed your views of yourself? I think the biggest thing study abroad did for me was help me develop a greater love and a deeper appreciation for Howard University (my alma mater). When I left to study abroad, I thought that so many of the issues I faced regularly as a student was unique to my school, however I learned to take them in stride because every institution has its own problems. 

Would you recommend studying abroad to others? What advice would you give to someone who is looking to study abroad but has some hesitation? I am a firm believer that EVERYONE should study abroad. I believe that high schools and universities should make this opportunity more accessible for everyone. My advice is that you pursue any opportunity you have to experience another culture. Whether it’s for two weeks or a full school year, it is an experience you will never regret. 

Can you share a funny/memorable/embarrassing (whatever) story from your experience? I think one of my most memorable experiences was horseback riding in the south of France. I’d never ridden a horse before! 

What do you miss most about being abroad? I miss hearing French so much. I love hearing the language so much that I would regularly ride the tram in my free time just to listen to people’s conversations. I miss that. 

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? I would form friendships with more French students and force myself to use the language more.

Horseback Riding in France

 ________________   

More questions about Nikita’s experience? Check out her travel blog on GetJealous or her personal blog here! If you have any other questions for her shoot me a message (or just leave a comment) and we’ll make sure you’re able to reach her.

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