One thing I did not realize was going to be a bit of a culture shock was the difference between my school back home and SKEMA Business School in the French Riviera. While I have always been aware of some shortcomings that my U.S. university has had with diversity, I didn't expect to be as culture-shocked as I was to spend a semester going to a diverse international school.
Back in the U.S., I attend Clemson University, located in the rural part of upstate South Carolina. When I first arrived at SKEMA, a few things stood out and felt completely foreign to me, given my academic environment back home.
As an international business school, most SKEMA students are French -- but I've met students from countries like Kazakhstan, Morocco, Italy, Norway, Sweden, China, Russia, and more. The ratio of men to women at SKEMA is almost equal, and there are more students of color in my classes than back at Clemson.
One odd disparity between the schools that I had not anticipated was the socioeconomic difference. Because French public colleges are free and SKEMA is a private school, many of the wealthier kids attend SKEMA. It’s not uncommon to see fellow classmates dressed in the latest designer brands like Gucci, Fendi, and Balenciaga.
Another thing that I noticed is that there are not that many students that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community (that I know of). Back at Clemson, I knew a great number of queer people, which might be surprising to some considering the Clemson is more or so in the “deep South.”
Although the schools differ from each other, they are both special to me and enriching in their own ways.
Hannah Rohaley is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in French Riviera, France, and is currently studying at Clemson University.