Study in France Dispels Stereotypes
Senior Neera Arya is spending the semester studying in Strasbourg, France, and traveling around Europe at Ecole de Management Strasbourg, or EM Strasbourg Business School. Arya takes readers on her journey as she experiences the French culture and environment for the first time. Learning to eliminate many of her own French stereotypes and discovering a worldview, Arya shares her first social excursions while in France: the good, the bad and the funny.
“When I decided to study abroad in France, I honestly pictured the French culture immediately thrown into my face as soon as I stepped off the airplane. I half-expected to see mimes, berets, baguettes and other stereotypical examples of the French culture.
After arriving in Strasbourg, I realized I had most definitely not stepped onto the set of one of my favorite childhood cartoon shows, “Madeline,” from which I had gotten all of my French stereotypes, but instead I had entered one of the most diverse cities in all of France.
I experienced some major culture shock the first few weeks here in France, which definitely make for some hilarious stories. My first time grocery shopping was a complete disaster. Not only do they measure everything in units and kilograms, but apparently you have to bring your own totes because they charge you for every plastic bag you use to take your groceries home. This is different from the states where you may get two bags to carry your gallon of milk home.
They have weekly street markets where you can buy freshly squeezed fruit juices, and fresh vegetables and fruits. It is similar to the markets in South America and other parts of the world but not as common in Houston. Also, something different here in France is how often the public transportation system is used. In Houston, people tend to drive everywhere. All these difference are making my time here in France much more memorable.
The opportunity to study abroad not only allows you learn about the culture of the country, but it also helps you learn about all the little sub-cultures that make up France.
When I visited Paris, I was blown away to see the country not only had a Chinatown but also an “Indiatown,” which is literally streets and streets of Indian restaurants, supermarkets and shops. It makes sense because Paris is such a large city, but I did not expect it.
Talking with the locals and comparing home countries is always fun. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with some French university students. I spent hours showing them pictures of “Texan food,” pictures of the rodeo and other Texan/American things. In turn, they showed me the town they called home. It was fun to learn about the daily lives of people my age in a different country directly from them and not from a textbook or from “Madeline.”
Study abroad has really opened my eyes to see that the world is very multicultural. Stereotypes are no longer the majority. It is a truly beautiful experience, and I recommend it to everyone who would love the chance to learn about other countries and cultures.”
Arya is a communication major with minors in finance, marketing and French. She will be abroad through December. She plans to graduate from UST in December 2013. For information about study abroad opportunities, visit the Study Abroad Program website.