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Bonjour! Earlier this month I had the pleasure of going to Paris to attend a friend/ former RIT alum’s (KGCOE) wedding. I arrived a week prior to the wedding so I had some time to knock some things off of my bucket list and even had the opportunity to visit a new study abroad program at the American University of Paris through RIT’s affiliate SAI.

The American University of Paris (AUP) is exactly what the name implies. It is literally an American university in Paris. That means:

  • It’s on the American semester system
  • Follows the American semester calendar
  • It’s an accredited American university
  • All the courses are taught in English (except language courses of course)
  • You get the idea…

While its location may seem like the only thing that makes it different from a typical American university, AUP can definitely provide a unique experience to all students who attend. AUP students come from all over the world (over 100 different nationalities), so you have many opportunities to gain insight on different perspectives, learn how to work in a globally diverse group as well as build your global network through students, faculty and staff. AUP offers a number of business majors which include Marketing, MIS, Management, International Finance, International Business and Entrepreneurship. Their curriculum is also structured similarly to Saunders so finding courses should be easy peasy. There is also a wide array of other disciplines to mix in with those business courses (e.g. Communications, History, Arts & Sciences, Film Studies, Music, Urban Studies, etc.) So if you wanted to take a Paris Cinema and Global Communications class with Corporate Finance and Business Ethics & Corp. Social Responsibility, it’s totally doable! But the best part (in my opinion anyway) is that the school is a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower! Imagine waking up, getting ready for class, grabbing a quick croissant and espresso at the nearby café and walking by the iconic landmark every morning. How cool is that?!

As for the rest of my trip, I hit the main attractions (i.e. Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, etc.) They were absolutely amazing things to see in person and it is a definite must if you’re in Paris. But my main goal, however, was to blend in as quickly as possible and shake all the “touristy-ness” out of me. Luckily, I did take French in high school, so I had that going for me. (Travel tip: download Google translate on your phone…not only will it help you communicate with non-English speakers, it will say the intended phrase for you so you can attempt and/or practice to pronounce the words correctly!) I wanted to walk in the shoes of a Parisian, even if it was only for a couple of days.The French like to take their time, which was probably the hardest thing for me to get used to. You really don’t realize how fast paced your life is until everything around you slows down. It almost felt uncomfortable at times. But as the saying goes, “When in Rome” (in this case it’s Paris). So I sat in cafes for hours, people watching and consuming what some would consider an excessive amount of cheese (which my stomach hates me for now…but I have no regrets, it was delicious). You’ll notice most places will have outdoor seating with all the seats facing out to the street specifically for these occasions. I saw couples making out on the street and others arguing to the brink of a break up. Many passersby had a matching furring companion strutting alongside them, while others had their headphones in whilst munching on a fresh baguette. Then you’ll see the occasional out-of-towner with a camera always ready to snap their next Facebook post. It was certainly an interesting way soak up the culture.I will never know if I’ve sold you on Paris, but I hope I’ve sold you on travelling overseas or at least thinking about it. Nothing compares to the experience of truly being out of your comfort zone and the sense of relief and accomplishment after the fact. You learn to adapt quickly; to problem solve. You learn to appreciate other cultures and expand on your own. You’ll come to realize that not all international experiences are going to be positive, but it is a challenge that, if faced head on, will always have a positive outcome.

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It might sound like I’m full of hot air since I only spent a week in France. But I have been travelling for most of my life. Some places for a week and other places for over 4 years. I know my experiences overseas have played a major part of who I am both personally and professionally. It is something I am very passionate about and will always encourage students to consider building into their time here at Saunders. I didn’t gain the nickname, “Crazy Study Abroad Lady” for nothing. So what are you waiting for?! Just go!

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