By Clémentine Faure (2015)
During the first year of my Master’s, I spent a semester at Loyola University in the beautiful and exciting city of Chicago, Illinois. Despite the apprehension of living in a huge city where I had never been before, I left my small town in Provence on August 22nd to start taking classes on the 26th. There were ups and downs, but the upsides are the ones that have stayed with me in the long run.
I had many cultural experiences from discovering a city with a very strong, striking history, a completely new way of life and a whole new culture to living with three American roommates, who allowed me to get to know my way around the city quickly and to integrate faster into the student community. The fact that I lived on one of the university campuses (not the one where I took my classes but the building I lived in is located in one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods, right next to the Water Tower) also helped me to be a part of student life, since I regularly participated in events organized by the students in my building.
I discovered a new discipline, Sociology, and participated in a few seminars about American history that were very enriching allowed me to study the subject from new points of view. The ideal location of the Lake Shore Campus made it pleasant to go to class, even in the winter. The downsides, even if they did exist, did not spoil my experience. Among the most difficult things that future exchange students will need to prepare for are missing their friends and family, their home country from time to time, considerable expenses (especially when you have decided to live on campus, where housing is quite expensive), and the “Erasmus Blues” which has affected almost every exchange student.
For those who are interested in discovering American culture, life on an American campus, and who are not afraid of preconceived ideas about French people (“you’re French? Oh, so you live in Paris, right?”), these exchanges represent unique opportunities that allow us to open our minds to the world, learn how to trust ourselves, be more confident and develop an autonomy that can only be appreciated during future job interviews.