University of San Diego
Danielle Agnello, Alumni Ambassador
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
My study abroad experience has taught me so much about myself and my career aspirations. Through my study abroad experience I have greatly improved my French. Not only have I improved my French speaking skills, but I have also learned the French cultural expectations and mannerism in various settings. Aside from French, I have mastered the art of navigating around cities and becoming familiar with various public transportation systems. I have become extremely independent and self-sufficient, especially when traveling on my own. My time management skills have also sky-rocketed considering I have found a healthy balance between my weekend travels and weekly academic work. In terms of my career, I have learned that the fashion industry is definitely somewhere I see myself thriving, as I am extremely fascinated by it and want to continue to learn more about it. I have also decided that I am very interested in a job which enables me to travel a lot, possibly even starting my career abroad. I interned with a French company over this past Summer and have now applied to other French companies because of how much I loved working with them in addition to how in love I am with the city of Paris. On another note, I have learned how important it is to balance and separate your personal life and work life. The various experiences and opportunities I have had abroad have helped me to grow as not only a person, but as a student, and professional.
2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?Every city I went to I always walked as much as I possibly could. This may sound crazy, but I found myself stumbling upon local markets, hidden boutiques, and the most authentic restaurants while wandering through the city by foot. I also felt that it helped me learned to navigate and familiarize myself with the city streets. Don't get me wrong, the metro is a huge part of Parisian culture and I still took it quite often, but I learned to love walking since it allowed me to see the city and all of its quirks. With that said, the metro in Paris is exceptional and I am going to miss my morning and afternoon commute on the metro where I could just unwind, people watch, and have some downtime. The metro may be a public form of transportation but it's so clear that everyone is so caught up in their own worlds while riding it. I also experienced the local culture by dining at restaurants which flew under the radar and were off the beaten path, steering clear of all places which screamed tourist. When studying abroad I knew I would be labeled as a foreigner considering I was an American in European territory, but I tried my best to distance myself from all the tourist spots whenever I traveled to a new place. I did visit all the major monuments and museums, but I acted a certain way when doing so. There's a "tourist behavior" you want to avoid when traveling to foreign countries and cities in order to blend in and I made sure to follow that code and always remain conscious of my surroundings. Experiencing the local culture abroad has a lot to do with how you act and the level of respect you show towards each culture you're immersed in; the more open you are to fully engaging with that culture, the more opportunities and better overall time you'll have.