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Study Abroad Blog

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Why Should An Engineer Study Abroad & Why France is the Best Place to Do So

September 17, 2018
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

When I was young and on vacation with my family, my Dad would talk about how he studied for a semester in London during his college career, and it being one of the best and most important experiences of his life. Ever since then, mixed with my fascination of the world and desire to travel, I knew I would study abroad in college, no matter what it took. I am a civil and environmental engineer at UMass Amherst. When I first arrived at school, I talked with some of the other new engineers I met, and was surprised to hear that study abroad wasn’t even remotely in their plans. I was hearing things like, “Engineers can’t study abroad, our curriculum won’t allow it,” or “You won’t learn what you need to learn to be an Engineer if you go abroad and you’ll have to stay an extra year.” I would like to say that these things are absolutely not true. I scheduled a meeting with my advisor in the first couple months, and she ensured me that it is very possible for anyone of any major to study abroad. In fact, employers will even value it more when they see an engineer with a background of such.

DemarcoEng5 A picture of me in the Gorges du Verdon, France

From here the wheels started rolling. I was informed of my options, as to where I could study, where the classes I needed to take, were offered in English. I had no experience in another language other than a few years of Spanish in High School, and this was not a problem. There were more locations than expected, and there would have been even more if I wanted classes in a second language. After narrowing out many, I thought I settled on Edinburgh, Scotland for the second semester of my sophomore year (the most agreeable time in engineering curriculum to study overseas). When I heard of a brand new option to study in the French Riviera with CEA, within about thirty minutes of research on the CEA program page and some surface level google searches, I was sold.

DemarcoEng1 The view of Antibes from the Cap with the city of Nice and the Alps in the distance.

DemarcoEng2 The Nomad statue on the yacht port, who, after their endless travel, settled down in Antibes facing the Mediterranean.

I studied at a small international school named SKEMA on the Riviera. I lived in the small fort town of Antibes, just south of Nice and north of Cannes (yes, as in the Cannes film festival). All of the engineering courses I needed to continue on in my curriculum were offered, as well as a wide range of interesting gen-eds and business courses. All of the other destinations I was presented also offered the classes I need, but I am biased, the south of France is by far the best. In regards to academics, class sizes were under ten, the teaching was in English, and the professors genuinely cared about student success. The school was only a short bus ride from my home of Antibes, possibly the most picturesque place in the world; with its fort walls protruding out against its stunning beach, and second largest yachting port in the world, contrasted by the city of Nice in the distance outlined by the snow-capped Alps. I would wake up in my apartment, located two minutes walk from the beach, head down my stairs to the famous French outdoor market for breakfast, and then continue on to class (which I only had three days of the week because classes meet once a week for three hours). The schedule and the location made it easy to travel through all of Europe and experience so many different and incredible cultures. I cannot express how much I learned and how highly I value my experience. I am confident you will feel the same way should you choose to study abroad.

DemarcoEng3 The Cap D’Antibes, where I spent many days enjoying the weather, water, views, and cliffs.

DemarcoEng4A view of sunset on Antibes port. On the right is the Dilbar, the largest yacht in the world.

For anyone evenly remotely interested, I urge you to reach out to the international programs office at your school or a CEA advisor!

As you might have been able to tell, I love to talk about my time abroad and would love for anyone who reads this to reach out with questions or just to talk! My email is

Jonathan DeMarco is a CEA Alumni Ambassador. He studies Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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