LJMU English intern Jessica Rimmer met SCSU student, Taylor Bird, to share her experience of studying abroad, and get her advice to students who are considering crossing the Atlantic in the other direction.
Taylor spent one month studying French in Paris and stayed in a French University for the duration of her trip. When I asked about her highlight of the experience, Taylor revealed that, ‘you make connections with people and you get to form strong relationships which result in lifelong friendships. One of the people that I’m now working with is a friend I met in Paris and we’re still really close, we live together’.
Taylor went on to offer some brilliant advice to students who are considering studying abroad in the future. She said: ‘My advice is definitely do it! Whether you’re just thinking about it or having doubts, just figure it out later – make it happen. Also, don’t be afraid to do new things whilst you’re abroad because that’s one of the things that I really appreciated about my trip – just the fact that we had a lot of independence and a lot of time to just go out and explore our surroundings. It’s funny, I found myself talking to people and trying to engage with them, trying to speak French even though at home (in the US) I’m like “oh my gosh, I can’t speak French?!” but over there you need it to survive, in a sense, so you go out and you do it. The experience forces you out of your comfort zone in some ways which I think is a good thing. Trying new things is so important’.
Initially, Taylor admitted, she had focussed upon the possibility of cultural differences that would make her miss home. However, she explains how studying abroad revealed cultural similarities that she did not anticipate: ‘I was actually really surprised. I didn’t feel as though there were significant differences that I struggled to adapt to. I definitely didn’t expect to go abroad to France and find that so many people were into American music. Being in my dorm and hearing people rock out to Eminem was crazy, and on my first weekend there I went to a Big Sean concert and it was full! I didn’t realise he was really popular in France as well as in America. So, I think studying abroad will highlight similarities in culture that you perhaps wouldn’t expect’.
Finally, Taylor revealed that her top tip would be to: ‘document your trip! I kept a video diary of my experience and I’m so glad I did. When I watch it back I get to relive the memories and experience France all over again! I also made a photo book online once I had returned home which I love to look through’. Click here to watch Taylor’s video diary of her Study Abroad trip.