For Clemson students in Paris, Europe is their classroom
The College of Business spring semester study abroad program is labeled “Business in Paris.”
And though the business curriculum is solid and taught at one of France’s most elite business schools, the enrichment 22 Clemson University students are experiencing this spring goes far beyond the disciplines of accounting, finance, marketing, management and economics.
“There is so much learning and growing outside the classroom,” said Melissa Nenninger, the Student Enrichment intern who oversees the fifth annual study abroad program. “In six months of living and traveling together, your eyes are opened to so many things. People change and grow in many different ways.”
Sophomore marketing major Peyton Marion concurs there is plenty of learning in his 15 credits of classroom work, but he considers the outside-the-classroom experiences as the best form of learning.
“This program allows us the flexibility to travel and see the world. By the time I leave in May, I will have visited 13 countries. I’ve become so culturally enriched this semester and learned so much more than I would have if I were just sitting in a classroom every day.”
Melissa, a junior marketing major, studied in Paris on the same trip her sophomore year. She said students take between 12 and 15 credits in business courses at IÉSEG School of Management, which are taught by professors from Clemson, as well as France and other European countries. The semester curriculum includes two breaks in February and April, which allow students the opportunity to visit many destinations via a short flight or train ride.
“By the end of this semester, I will have traveled to more countries than I had in the first 19 years of my life combined,” said Abby Brossette, another sophomore marketing major currently studying in Paris. “I’ve learned that traveling together is the fastest way to form friendships. Overall, the experience here has made me more independent and shown me that I can live and do things on my own. Because of that I am much more confident in myself.”
Melissa took advantage of the February and March breaks by visiting 14 European countries during her semester abroad last spring. Those additional expenses are not covered by program fees, but she said the cost of studying abroad can be less than a semester on campus for some students.
“It’s more affordable than many think. For out-of-state students it can be less expensive than studying in Clemson when you consider lodging and meal costs. Plus, scholarships are available to pay some of these expenses.”
Abby and Peyton say there are some adjustments a student needs to make while living in a foreign country, but they aren’t insurmountable.
“Not knowing any French, I came here realizing the language barrier would be a challenge for me,” Abby said. “But I’m taking a French class and slowly learning the language. Plus, most people in Paris know a fair amount of English.”
Initially, Peyton struggled with “comically simple,” every day functions.
“It sounds absurd, but take for example searching for a grocery item. Not recognizing brands or the language, I wasn’t able to find things like sour cream. I wandered up and down the grocery aisles like a lost puppy searching for staple items.”
But those frustrations aside, the experience has been eye-opening and life changing for Abby and Peyton.
“Living abroad, you notice some subtle and overwhelming differences in culture and how people go about everyday life,” Peyton said. “But the more time you spend here, it becomes clear that people are people and though we may grow up in different environments and cultures, and speak different languages, we can still get along. All it takes is understanding and a little respect.”
# # #