As I’ve previously written about, I spent a month last summer studying in Clermont-Ferrand, a small town in France. Norman and Clermont-Ferrand are sister cities, meaning university exchange is incredibly easy. This semester, there were several French students studying at OU. The College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Scholars program hosts a trip for its new members every year to Clermont, so the advisor for our organization invited the French students to come to an informal meeting to meet some of us and tell us about where they’re from.
I will not be going to Clermont again this summer, but I enjoyed chatting with the students about my favorite memories from my time abroad. While I got to know the town itself pretty well, my program was taught by OU professors, so I didn’t really get to see what being a student at the university there was like. I was most interested to hear about the different culture surrounding higher education. The French students said they were surprised by how the college experience in America includes not only taking classes but joining sororities or sports teams or other organizations. For us, the education one receives at a university is only a part of the experience. In France, university life is more simple, and there is much less emphasis on extracurriculars and involvement.
I appreciated hearing this perspective ahead of my semester abroad in France. The opportunities I have had outside of my coursework at OU have been wonderful. They’ve given me great real-world experience and helped me to make friends. However, doing so much can be exhausting, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to focus more intently on classes without juggling so many other commitments. It looks like this fall I’ll find out!