Fellow Patriots! My name is Zach Hearne, a senior in Francis Marion University’s (FMU) school of business. This is my last semester as an undergraduate student, and I have chosen to spend my time at the France Business School in Poitiers.
My goal with this column is to give the students at FMU an inside look into my life and the lives of others as we tackle this adventure in our new home in Europe. Through the exchange program at FMU, several students including myself left behind the comforts we are accustomed to here in the U.S. I am hoping to use this time in order to start a new chapter in my life and challenge myself in a more extreme educational environment.
From day one, it was obvious that we were no longer in the U.S. Everything was different from the size of the cars to the food we eat. Have you ever had a snail or raw beef on a platter? As an American, those dishes are strange to me, but they are delicacies that I will have to learn to love.
I decided to study abroad because I couldn’t think of a better way to wake up everyday than to be able to look out my window and Europe. I love the sight of coffee shops on every corner and being surrounded by a diverse culture with something new around every corner.
At the business school, I am being taught by some of the most qualified teachers and have been given the opportunity to travel to places I thought I would only ever seen in movies. I never thought it would be possible, but now I am living the life I always dreamed of.
So far, I have made several friends including Emilie Egelund Johansen, a student at from Copenhagen, Denmark. While I was speaking with her one day, I asked her what her best and worst memories with the study abroad program were.
“The best [part of] my experience here is the diversity, not only in culture but in the people I have met,” Johansen said. “Obviously [when you study abroad] you will miss your family and friends [having to] be away from them for a year. I think that along with just [missing] the comfort of your own home, having to say goodbye to people you spent the last year growing close to [are the worst parts of studying abroad].”
Even though I know I will miss my family I am looking forward to the experiences I will have in France and the excursions I will have the opportunity to make to Spain, Belgium or even the Netherlands.