The Overseas Experience

Some people live their lives without going outside of the country. Some spend their whole lives living in the same city up to adulthood.

The experience of living abroad is an educational experience. Leaving your home and parents behind and going to a four-year college is something that is hard for young freshman students, however, add in being a student exchange program for six months and it is a whole other story.

“To go abroad is a very, very good experience,” said Nisrine Louh, a junior student exchange student at the University of Arizona.

Louh attends the Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Advances school in Paris and plans to be an engineer after she graduates.

IPSA requires that every student participate in a student exchange program in their third year of college. For Louh, she had different options of where she could spend six months of her third year such as Taiwan, China, the Czech Republic and of course, Arizona.

Students in the study abroad program make up about 3 percent of the student body at UA, said Renee Griggs, interim director for the Study Abroad and Student Exchange at UA.

“The program offers an experience that you wouldn’t necessarily get studying in the U.S. It’s something different for every person and what they get out of what they do,” Griggs said.

For Florian Chamarat, also from IPSA here at UA, in Tucson, said walking onto the UA campus felt like a dream.

“I was like a kid when I saw the University of Arizona cause it was very big,” Chamarat said. “It was like we were seeing a movie with all the students in sororities and fraternities,” he added.

Thirty-six French students along with Chamarat and Louh chose Arizona to spend this year.

“I’m a big U.S. fan, that’s why I chose to come here,” Louh said.

While abroad, studying can be a great experience, it can also be a great addition to your resume.

“I think it makes a difference when you want to get a job. It shows that you are open minded because you can go abroad for a long period and you can adapt yourself,” Louh said.

Chamarat found living in Tucson to be very different from France with class sizes and food. Chamarat said that he found his classes sizes in Paris to be bigger compared to class sizes at UA; about 50 students in each class in Paris and 36 students in his classes at UA.

“We can see the American way of life. It’s very different from the French. For example, the fast food, you have a lot of fast food here and we have less fast food in France,” he said.

Overall, Louh has already gained something she can take away from her experience.

“You have to go for it when you want something,” said Louh. “I think it’s the best thing that you can learn. It’s scary to go away from your daily life in France,” she added.

Griggs has noticed a jump in program participation every two years.

“It’s a wonderful experience. We just want to see students go abroad,” Griggs said.

Both Louh and Chamarat said they agree.

“It’s a beautiful experience,” Chamarat said.

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