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Overcoming Challenges

Callum – Exchange to ESSCA Angers, France

Semester 2, 2016

Coming to Angers has been an experience where I’ve learnt a lot and have grown by facing different situations that I usually would not in Australia. However, by facing these challenges I have had to adjust certain ways of thinking and to adapt to each situation.

Language Barrier

Coming to France I didn’t really consider the difficulties I would have speaking with people in France. I loved the architecture and buildings and that was enough to persuade me to choose Angers! Not speaking any French and studying in a town far out from Paris where many of the locals don’t speak English was something I was not mentally prepared for. Everyday encounters require the French language to get by, such as: buying food from the shops, asking for directions and simply communicating with local students at ESSCA (my host University). When I first realised that the majority of people in Angers didn’t speak English I responded to them by shrugging and shaking my head. However, I began to notice that this was a foreign country and the onus was on me to make an effort to communicate with them!

Following this, I swapped one of my business classes to a French class and started to try and engage in conversation with people. Despite still having a very limited vocabulary, people respond better to the fact that I am at least trying to speak their language although I obviously do not. So in some situations the task I have wanted to complete (ie buying food) has become a lot easier due to me trying to engage in conversation.

Studying at ESSCA

Another naïve decision I made was electing to study at a business school, when I study law back in Australia! Two of my subjects are business based and require at least 2 years of prior study for local students to be able to take them. The subjects contain lots of math’s equations, which I always struggled with at High School.

Fortunately, some of my roommates study business and have been helping me to study. Also, I set up meetings with two of my teachers to let them know about my situation and they were both very helpful in directing me to resources where I could quickly absorb the basics of accounting and business. Despite having to study more than I had hoped, I have learnt a lot about business models and their operation.

Conclusion

Although I clearly didn’t choose the easiest path in the selection of my exchange, I have no regrets because I have learnt a lot more through these difficulties. Also, the friends that I have met and the experiences I have encountered have been irreplaceable!