Suprises in France

buddy1.jpgMy name is Buddy Waddington, and I am originally from Renton, Washington. I’m a junior at the Foster School, and I’m studying Marketing. Right now I’m studying abroad at the Audencia Ecole de Management in Nantes, France. The city is in Western France, only 30 minutes away from the Atlantic coast and a two hour train ride from Paris. I’ve been here only a month, and I have already experienced much more than I expected to encounter for my entire stay.

First, living in a place where the first language isn’t your own is an incredibly humbling experience. Taking the first train from Paris to Nantes was surreal. Upon arriving to my studio, I knew that the next six months of my life were going to be incredibly different.

I’ll sum up the atmosphere of Nantes by describing my trip to class. I have to walk out of my apartment, onto the cobblestone streets, and walk about a block to the tram station by the Loire River that runs through town. After waiting 0-2 minutes (the public transportation system here is very nice), I ride into the center of town to switch into the tram that will take me to the college (because if I stayed buddy2.JPGon for two more stops I would arrive at the castle of Duchess Anne, and it’s a school day, so no chateau visits today). Once I’m on the second line, I have about a 12 minute ride through the city filled with bakeries, French windows, and a handful of churches/cathedrals that could be older than the United States. Once I get off at my appropriate stop, I walk into the school, walk under the fountain that shoots water over the walkway in between the library and the café, and head into my classroom.

The students at Audencia are very welcoming. The school is comprised of only around 2000 students, which is just a tad different to the size of UW. The classes are structured very differently, and, like Foster, group work is emphasized. As classes go on, I’ll elaborate on school life here.

In all, my first month in France has been quite the learning experience for me. My other UW counterpart and I have made many friends from all around the world, including Paris, the French Riviera, Tunisia, Ireland, England, Germany, Austria, Colombia, Quebec, Ontario, Mexico, and Sweden. This first month has already made me so appreciative of this opportunity to stretch myself. Time is already zooming by, so I better go and get some things done around here.