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What I've Learned from Study Abroad

In my opinion, my experience in international education has provided me with an informed perception of my life from an external scope. It has allowed me to gain a stronger understanding of what it means to “be an American”, and why it is that I choose to, or am naturally accustomed to, associate with American culture. It was not until I left my comfort zone of familiarity that I was able to understand what it is that I truly value in regards to my home culture. While Parisian life has presented its challenges and frustrations, I have truly enjoyed my time abroad.

  As a recent college graduate, I believe my European experience is a bit different from many of my CEA classmates, in that I have finished my undergraduate college studies, and am returning to the professional world in the US in December. My goals in studying abroad have been primarily focused on traveling and experiencing the broadest possible range of culture, while taking advantage of the opportunity to form friendships and take classes of my interest through an educational program. As a parallel objective, I am interested in gaining a stronger appreciation for European business conduct and relations. Considering I will be returning to the US corporate structure, it is important for me to form an understanding of international structure and communication methods.

I believe that my day-to-day experiences and travels while studying abroad have guided me towards a more educated and well-rounded existence as a global citizen. Every conversation or interaction throughout my time abroad has aided me in a better understanding of cultures different from my own. The following photos are an attempt to explain my unique experiences through my European cultural exploration.

The first picture (above) is an advertisement that I came across during a weekend trip to London (and also in Paris), and it showed me what an impact that the US has had on the world; not only do Europeans have the desire to watch American movies, but they have the desire to watch American movies about American people and subjects such as Facebook! 

Similarly, the second picture (left) was a group that we came across during our trip to Deauville, France. The photo shows a group of women (dressed as “cowgirls”) teaching others how to line dance like Americans! It was so funny to us, especially those of us who are from the South, to see the Europeans trying to learn our ways of dance! These are just a few examples of the ways that I have been able to see the American impact on culture “across the pond," and just how intriguing our lifestyle is to Europeans!

My final picture (below) depicts some CEA friends on a set of Roman steps during our fall break vacation to Italy. We had the opportunity to catch an awesome sunset, while soaking in the unique experiences from the day. We relaxed amongst others enjoying the view for nearly an hour, and recounted memories of our time abroad. Although we will be sad to leave each other in a few short weeks, we have had experiences that will never be forgotten, nor recreated. Never again will we come to Paris as naïve Americans in search of a cultural understanding!    

Nichole Moran is a recent college graduate from University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, who is currently studying abroad in Paris, France.

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