March 2017 Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Spending four weeks of my summer studying at the prestigious Kedge Business School in Marseille, France, was the best experience of my life. This trip has given me lifelong memories and friends that I will cherish forever.
The program, Summer on the Mediterranean, could not have been any more perfect for me. Marseille is the second biggest city in France (I’m a city girl) and it is on the Mediterranean Sea – perfect for UNCW students to study at another beach college across the globe! I was excited to put my French minor to the test and be lucky enough to receive credit for the business course I still needed for my degree. If I could go back on this trip, I would do it over and over again without any hesitation!
One of the biggest adjustments and culture changes I had to get used to was the fact that air conditioning is not very common in Europe. Although the weather was beautiful every single day, it got very hot and we were outside every second we weren’t sitting in class. We spent a huge amount of time out and about sightseeing. The beaches were breathtaking. The water was cool, clear, and extremely refreshing. We were lucky that our hotel had air conditioning, but certain rooms at Kedge, local shops and restaurants, and public transportation all did not! That might sound miserable at first, but when you look around and see the city you are in, the lack of air conditioning doesn’t even faze you; you become used to it, like a true Marseillais!
Our weeks were broken up so nicely. We were in classes at Kedge Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday’s our entire group had day trip excursions together and from Friday to Sunday we were free to travel! My friends (Jimmy and Melanie) and I chose to travel on our own every weekend. In the short four weeks we spent abroad, we saw Marseille, Paris, Milan, Nice, and Monaco. All of which were absolutely incredible. The European architecture is so unique and beautiful. I really enjoyed touring the most famous cathedrals and castles when we were exploring these cities; they never failed to amaze me.
Towards the end of the trip, I really felt at home in Marseille. I formed amazing friendships with the French students at Kedge, Interact – who did everything for us. This group of French students in Interact planned activities for us, invited us out to explore the city, and truly made us feel welcomed. They were there for us whenever we needed any help. The passion these students showed for Marseille radiated through to me. Ultimately, they played an extremely important role in making this program as incredible as it is.
This program has changed the way I view myself and the world. It has made me even more passionate to travel as much as I can (and especially go back to France). I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this astonishing study abroad program. It is an experience I will never forget!