Q&A Spotlight: Allison Brown

Name: Allison Brown
Major: International Business Administration, Spring 2012
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Destination: Rouen, France Fall 2010
Institution: NEOMA Business School

Allison is a recent TU alumna who studied in France and returned to live in Paris one year ago. This is her story!

Q. When you first chose your program, what motivated you to choose that program?

I knew from Freshman year that I wanted to study abroad but I was never too invested in any particular country. I didn’t speak a language other than English and I had never really been outside of the US before, so I was very open to the advice of the Study Abroad Office. My four years at Towson were financed 100% by academic scholarships, so the only criteria I was looking for in a program was that it was a TU exchange, that my credits would bring me a semester closer to graduating (i.e. studying abroad would not put me a semester behind in credits), and I liked the idea of going to Western Europe to have the proximity of lots of other countries to travel to. After I expressed my criteria to a study abroad advisor they recommended the TU Exchange with Rouen Business School (RBS) in France, which would allow me to take business courses and earn credit towards my major. Without hesitation I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and applied for the program.

Q. What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

I think the hardest part about studying abroad is the adjustment to an accelerated life learning curve. Prior to going abroad, everything I had learned and known had come from Baltimore. I had chosen a university that was only a 10 minute drive from where I grew up, and while I feel as though I was still privileged to have an exceptional education both in and out of school, the depth of the world really hit me when I stepped foot in France. It was a big adjustment to go from a comfortably monotonous routine to being challenged on a minute by minute basis. Just going to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread could be both mentally exhausting but also exponentially educational. Being in a country where you don’t speak the language isn’t just an opportunity to learn a new language, it is also the greatest opportunity one could have to learn more about themselves and about humanity in general. I quickly learned that language is merely a secondary form of communication to the simple capability that every human is endowed with to understand their fellow man, no matter where they come from or what language they speak.

Q. Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on your experience, and move on from TU, are you able to utilize your experience?

My experience has had an influence on every day of  my life since returning to the US. I have opened myself in ways I never knew were possible and my perspective on everything in life, both personal and professional has been broadened and embellished. In addition to my general perspective, studying abroad has had a significant impact on my personal and professional life because it was during my time abroad that I met my husband. My husband, who is a native Parisian and who was also a student at RBS, and I continued to date when I returned to TU. After he spent more than a year in the US, we made the decision to get married and to move to Paris. I made the move to Paris in January 2013 and have been happily living here with my husband and our new puppy for a little over a year now. Living abroad has provided an amazing professional opportunity to work for a French research organization that was looking for an account manager to handle their American accounts. It is hard to imagine finding this type of opportunity in my native country. It is such a rewarding experience to apply the business skills that I learned at TU to help a foreign company connect with my fellow Americans. I am happy to say that I am still continually challenged on a daily basis here, even now that I speak French and have learned a lot about the country and the culture since my first arrival in 2010.

Q. You may miss something from your time abroad. What?

While I have been fortunate enough to continue my experience abroad, I still miss the special experience of studying abroad. Being a student abroad creates an environment in which you can test your limits and when making mistakes can actually be more rewarding than doing what is “right”. My experience at RBS was really a time to learn and to grow as an individual.

Q. If you were to do to it all over again, what would you change?

The one thing I would change about my experience abroad would be to have made a greater effort to learn the local language. Because I had only intended to be abroad for a semester, I was very content at the time to learn a minimal amount of French to get by on a daily basis (pretty much to know how to ask where the bathroom was and how to order a beer). After having a second chance to return to France, I realize now how important a language is to a country, it is something in which I wish I had seen more cultural merit.

Q. If a student asked you about where you studied, what would you recommend to them?

I can’t speak for other countries, but after having lived in both Rouen, Paris, and having traveled through most parts of France, I highly recommend studying abroad outside of Paris. Firstly, on a practical level, Paris is extremely financially limiting. Secondly, I have many friends who loved their study abroad experience in Paris, but in the end they never had the opportunity to meet any French people or to share in any real cultural experiences. Studying abroad in a smaller city is a great way to be forced closer to the culture and to the people, you can’t easily find other Americans with whom to isolate yourself.

Q. Do you have any advice for future student?

Don’t take even one second for granted during your time abroad! Be yourself, be someone new, or be someone who you’ve always wanted to be. Try new things and try old things in new ways with new people. There is a rare chance that you will ever have the opportunity again to live somewhere where where no one knows you but everyone wants to get to know you. Find your own unique way to take everything in and give yourself back.

 Merci, Allison!

New Exchange Partner Highlight!

We are proud to offer a new Exchange Partner to future Towson study abroad students:

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ESC Rennes School of Business!

This is an exciting new option for those seeking to travel to France! Plus, for our in-state students the cost is unbeatable!

The ESC Rennes School of Business features:

* Business Exchange with 13 courses pre-equated in our database!
* AACSB accreditation – great for future students in the business world.
* French language courses* or courses taught in English.
* Located in Rennes, France – the capital of the region of Brittany.
* Second-fastest growing metropolitan area in France, behind Toulouse.
* Home to 4 art museums and a number of well-known festivals.
* Over 60,000 students in the city, which brings a revitalized atmosphere!
* Sister cities include: Rochester, NY; Cork, Ireland; and Exeter, England.

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* No prior knowledge of French is required!

Eligibility requirements include:

  • GPA of 2.5.
  • Junior/Senior status

International Studies Abroad: Student Blog

There are so many places to see all over the world and this blog is helpful when trying to get information on numerous countries at once. This blog was created by International Studies Abroad (ISA), a national organization designed to create programs to help students study abroad. This blog contains information about a wide array of different countries that ISA sends students to.

ISA Student Blog

http://isastudentblog.wordpress.com/

ISA

France: A Moving Eiffel Tower

While I was studying abroad in London, my roommate and I decided to take a trip to Paris, France for three days with her visiting family members. While we were there we tried to see as much of Paris as we could in three days and one of the most important landmarks in Paris is of course the Eiffel Tower. I was ecstatic to finally see the tower for myself instead of seeing pictures of it online and I thought that nothing could ruin this experience for me. BOY WAS I WRONG!

We decided to go see the Eiffel Tower on the windiest, rainiest day of our trip. First off, there was only one of four elevators working that day to bring tourists to the top of the tower so the lines were extremely long. Second it was about 40 degrees and the only jacket I had on was a thin rain coat ( I planned for my spring break trip to bring warm weather but that did not exactly work out in my favor). Third it was extremely windy, I felt as though I had brace myself as to not get blown away by the terrible winds. Lastly, to make matters worse, it was raining. The perfect day in Paris was actually rather miserable.

Despite the poor weather I was determined to see the Eiffel Tower and go all the way to the top, but that task was not as easy as I thought. After waiting for two hours, we finally made it on the elevator to the first landing of the Tower. On the first landing of the tower is was significantly colder than it had been on the ground level and the rain was coming down so hard it was hurting my face! We tried to look out all over the city from this landing but the clouds made it hard to see much and the wind and rain were becoming unbearable.  Regardless I was determined to push on and go straight to the top. We waited in line for another hour and we finally got to the tippy top of the tower. When we stepped off the elevator, the temperature felt as if it had dropped at least 10 degrees. We were freezing and the rain only hurt more the higher up we went. We were literally in a wind tunnel! I had to stand against the side of the tower to prevent myself from flying straight off the top! The scariest part of the entire adventure was making my way to the side, looking over the edge of the tower, and noticing that the Eiffel Tower was literally moving in the wind! The Tower was shaking at least six inches both ways! I was terrified! I was so scared in fact that I cut my time at the top of the tower short, to get to lower and safer ground.

I had been waiting to see the Eiffel Tower for so long that when our stop there was cut short due to weather I was rather disappointed, we all were. Since we were all so down, we decided to go back out once the weather improved and the sun went down to see the Eiffel Tower and all its glory in the night sky. And that in itself was awe inspiring. It made all of the woes of the day completely and utterly worth it.

Leigh Anne Weaver

University Of Westminster

London, England