SciencesPo and Reims: A Reversal of Expectations

At 7:30 a.m. the day before my flight to France, I registered for six classes that I was ecstatic about. My host university, SciencesPo, boasts prestigious alumni and small class sizes, which make it one of the most well-known universities in France. I was so excited to have been accepted into the program and looked forward to studying “the French way.”

On the other hand, the university was in Reims (pronounced rahnz), which is a smaller city about forty-five minutes outside of Paris by train. I had heard rumors of cold weather, unwelcoming people, and lack of things to do. But weighing the pros and cons, I decided that the school was worth the lackluster location. Now, halfway through the semester, reality has shown the reverse of my expectations.

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From Known to Unknown

I was really amazed by all the papers you need fill out just to graduate in the United States. Back in my country it is as simple as can be.

To say a bit about educational system in Russia, it is way different than here. First of all, all of our classes are mandatory. We could not arrange our schedule, or choose to take class in one semester or in another. Our schedule is made by our department and you must attend every class.

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The ‘Studying’ Part of Being Abroad

Being abroad is a constant adventure. Every day, I learn or experience something new about European culture.

One of the biggest cultural differences I’m experiencing is school. I often get asked what school is like in America. People ask me loads (look at me using some British vocab) of questions about my experiences in high school. Did you have a prom king and queen? What were football games like? How was your class schedule?

I really had no idea how different school was in Europe.

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A Change of Pace

It’s been a month since I first packed up the necessities of my life and traveled across the country to live in an unfamiliar place. To me, college has made me realize that home really isn’t about the place I grew up or the feeling of familiarity I get when I walk into my room. To me, home is more the feeling of comfort I get when I am with the people who are part of my life. So when I first arrived in Spain, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find that here.

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Finland and the European Refugee Crisis

Week 3 classes kicked off on Monday here in Finland. This week brings refugee resettlement and integration, a very interesting, but very emotionally heavy course. Within a couple days, I learned so much about the refugee crisis throughout Europe and how Finland handles the influx of refugees into this country. In sum, Finland focuses on seeing refugees as humans deserving of new chances and setting them up for future success.

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