College, more than any other time in a person’s life, is an opportunity for new experiences and adventures. For a number of students at Boston University, this means exploring not only the Hub, but a new country. With more than 75 programs in 30 cities on six continents, BU Study Abroad has sent about 16,000 students to various destinations since 1984.
Practicing Medicine in Paris
In Paris, “everything is smaller, yet bigger in a sense,” said Alberto Medina, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences who is majoring in Biology and French, in a Skype interview.
“The cars are smaller, streets are narrower and people are tinier,” Medina said, “but then there’s everything else that’s bigger and longer, like the nights out, the monuments and the dinners.”
Medina said the Parisian lifestyle is much more “relaxed” than the Bostonian way of life.
He is interning in the Parisian hospital Franco-Britanique, working in the pediatrics and neonatology department, during the second half of the semester and said he cannot wait for it to begin.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for me because I am pre-med and I am also looking into being a pediatrician,” he said.
He advocated in favor of Parisians, saying that they do not fit the cold and rude stereotype many people might believe they embody.
“In Texas, you have the southern hospitality feeling, whereas in the Northeast, you have less of that,” he said. “In Paris, you get a mix of both.”
Medina said he is excited about his living conditions — he is staying with a 70-year-old woman, whose apartment is 10 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower.
“I can actually see it from the living room — the view is amazing,” he said.
Mixing in with Madrid
Maya Jimenez, a senior studying photojournalism in the College of Communication, said she is comfortable with her host family. She is living with a single mother and her 11-year-old child in Madrid, Spain.
“We all share one bathroom, but that’s fine —it’s all very European,” Jimenez said via Skype.
Having grown up in Ecuador, Jiminez compared the Spanish environment with her experience in South America.
“There are so many similarities — both cultures are very friendly, you always eat with other people and everyone is very open-minded,” she said. “It’s like every day revolves around drinking and eating. It’s a very warm city.”
Jimenez is taking classes at the International Institute of Madrid with students from all over the world. She also works for a fashion photographer, who she said might call her up at any moment for an unexpected shoot.
“It’s possible I’ll get a call right now saying, ‘I have a shoot for you, can you make it?’” she said. “It’s pretty erratic, but I enjoy it.”
When Jimenez went to Madrid, she decided to maintain her relationship with her boyfriend despite the long distance. Although she said she understands how it can be a large issue for a number of students, she urges those who are concerned for their relationships to give a shot at it, because it is worth it.
“Don’t let your homesickness keep you from doing things. Even if you’re in a fight with your boyfriend or you miss your parents, you must force yourself to go out and enjoy the city,” she said. “It is a once in a lifetime experience, and if your relationship is strong enough, it will be okay.”
COM junior Josh Crampsey studying advertising, recently got back to London after spending a weekend in Austria — just in time for the final days of the London Film Festival.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he said in a Skype interview. “I’m getting the chance to see these amazing places that I could’ve probably only seen in pictures.”
It was not easy to adjust to the European life at first, but now that he is accustomed to the lifestyle, Crampsey said he is enjoying every minute.
“The way of life in Europe is so different than [in] America, but it’s been a great experience, and I know I’ve grown as a person from it,” he said.
Nature in New Zealand
On the other side of the globe, Chris Goodwin, a junior in CAS concentrating in biology, said he enjoyed a two-week trip around New Zealand’s South Island. It was the first time Goodwin was traveling by himself, he said, to an unknown location, without any idea of where he would be sleeping each night.
“It was an amazing experience — everyone was vey hospitable and impressed by us traveling on our own,” he said over Skype. “Everywhere you looked you could imagine being in a scene from ‘The Lord of The Rings.’”
As he talked about the landscapes, his passion for the images he described was more than noticeable.
“As we hiked around the island, you could see the most majestic mountains all around … The forests are beautiful, thick and lush,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about the movie locations while I was there, but one night, after a hike, someone said, ‘We hit Isengard today.’”
“Coming to Australia is probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Rachel Canalita, a senior studying international relations and Film/TV in CAS and COM via Skype. “I can’t imagine anyone having a bad experience here.”
Canalita said that studying abroad is a must do for students.
“Studying abroad is one of those things you have to do or else you’ll regret it,” she said. “Immersing yourself in a different culture is refreshing. You get to understand more about your own culture and learn to appreciate a different one.”
While studying abroad, there is no limit to the activities one can participate in, from starting new internships to enjoying the sunrise and breakfast on the beach.
Canalita is interning in a small production company called Naked Flame Productions, were she says she will be doing “virtually everything” during the semester.
“Right now, I do research and edit trailers, but I’ll be doing many different things for the company,” she said.
Canalita also said that she is pleased with her classes and professors. Since the classes she takes are very small, professors take the time to know everyone’s name and develop a personal relationship with each student.
“One of my professors would always ask us what we did the previous day, if we didn’t do something new or if we stayed in our dorm, he’d get upset,” she said. “He really pushes us to experience new things — it’s great.”
If there is one thing that every student abroad said, it was that travelers need to be mindful of their spending habits.
Crampsey said he was initially shocked by the difference in prices.
“Everything in London is really expensive,” he said. “I spent 30 American dollars in going to watch a movie.”
Jimenez said students she knows on the Madrid program have had the same issue.
“You need to spend your money wisely, and always keep in mind that Euros are not dollars,” she said.
Despite the financial warnings, the students are unanimous in their opinion. Whether it is enjoying the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Paris, or “the French New York City,” as Medina calls it, finding epic adventures while admiring New Zealand landscapes such as Goodwin, or eating tapas and enjoying good wine bar-hopping down the streets of Madrid like Jimenez, every student said that studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I can’t imagine another moment in my life where I could’ve been immersed in such a different and beautiful culture,” Canatina said. “I do not regret my decision one bit.”