Hey everyone! My name is Caroline Burke and I am studying abroad this semester in Paris, France! As of today, I have been living here for exactly 2 months! It is hard to belive how fast the time is going by. So much has happened already, but before I jump into posting about my European adventure, here is a little background about where I am going to school and living:
I am attending IESEG School of Management with a group of 14 other Clemson students until the end of May. This university is solely a business school that has two campuses: one in the small town of Lille, which is about 45 minutes outside of Paris, and the second campus in La Defense. La Defense is the business district of Paris and is located on the west side of the city. It is a great location for a business school because it is surrounded by multiple well known French companies, hotels, and the largest mall in Europe. It is 5 metro stops from the Arc d'Triomphe and is only a few more to the center of Paris, so the city is literally at our fingertips. One neat thing about this campus is that it is underground. I know that might sound strange but it is true; you can not see it from ground level because it is under the Grande Arche of La Defense. This arche is an enormous structure that hosts two government departments. When you walk to the arche, you have to take an escalator down to access the entrance of the school.
A few years ago, IESEG decided to establish their campus here in the city to attract more international students to the university; I guess it worked! So far, I have met students from all around the world including Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Kazakstan, India, Morrocco, and Australia, to name a few. It is amazing how different it feels to be going to school in such an international setting; even my professors have different nationalities! My Business Law professor is from the UK, International Marketing professor is from New York, European Business Culture professor is from Hungary, and both of my Finance professors are French. Surrounding myself by people from so many places with unique cultures, languages, and business programs has been eye opening (my next post will be about the major differences between French and American culture - there are a lot!). Classes at IESEG are quite different from what I am used to as well. Classes here are offered as extensive courses that meet once a week for the entire semester, and others are offered as intensive courses. Intensives meet for up to 6 hours a day for 5 days of one week, and then it is over. As nice as it may sound to finish a class in 5 days, it can be pretty stressful and exhausting. I have my first week of 2 intensive courses coming up soon so I will have to be in school for up to 10 hours per day! It has also taken some time for me to adjust to the lack of structure that exists: classes meet on different days, times, and rooms every week so I have to check my timetable on a weekly basis to avoid walking into the wrong class. I think I am finally getting used to it!
My apartment is a ten minute walk from IESEG in a neighborhood called Courbevoie. Courbevoie consists mostly of apartment buildings because houses, especially ones with a lot of space and big yards like the US, are not the norm. One thing I really like about my neighborhood, other than the great location, is that it has a very homey feel to it. On my way to school, I walk through two small parks where I see children playing, families together and people walking their dogs. The building I live in consists mostly of international students attending a variety of universities in the area. We have our own dorm-sized room with a kitchenette and bathroom. I have to admit when I first arrived here, the room seemed very small, but now I am enjoying the simplicity of it. After traveling extensively this past month, coming back to my room is starting to feel like home.