Wednesday, May 25, 2011

San Luis Obispo, CA, *Pablo Allouard*

Pablo Allouard
Rouen Business School, Normandie, France
Where did you study abroad? 
San Luis Obispo, CA.
For how long?
10 Months.

Pre-departure preparations? 
Just basic things such as searching apartments, money, transportation etc…

Beginning experiences and feelings upon arrival?
It was my first time in the USA and far away from my roots (at least for a year). The first thing was Los Angeles. I arrived in a sunny afternoon, in this huge American city. I spend the first night in a Hotel downtown, because there wasn’t a train for SLO after 3pm. I was excited to discover this new world (and 10 months after, I still discover new things every day). I saw many cultural differences when I arrived: the Amtrak (generally, public transportation), cars, architecture, the coastline with mountains, streets etc… I noticed all the visible differences between California and France, but there are also similarities.
I was surprised to see all these beautiful cars, trucks and houses, compared to a period of economic recession. The opulent way of life was my culture shock, especially the “car society”(everything is easier with a car, compare to public transportation).
After I realized that I was going to spend one year without coming back to France, which was difficult at some point, when you start missing your family, friends, roots etc…

Overall experience
I definitely want to come back, I loved my experience abroad. So many road-trips!  
I discovered a lot about myself, California changed me.
I realized that the French have so much to learn from California:
  • First, an optimistic way of thinking. The French are pessimistic, like tradition and see change as a danger. They always complaining about everything. That’s why I want to come back!
  • Americans are more open to change.  We talk a lot about changing, but when it is time to take actions...
  • A friendly attitude towards people. SLO life seems to be a little bit cooler than the rest of California, but it is still different than in France, where people are a lot more distant, sometimes unfriendly.
  • A lot of sports amenities here. Things changed in France, but it’s not comparable to here: so much sports equipment! Compare to French campus, it’s a lot different. I would say that Californian seem to enjoy take care of their body and health, towards sports activities. A way of life that I’m going to miss for sure!
I’m 100% sure I’m going to have a reverse culture shock when I’ll come back: I’ll miss Californian people, way of life and landscapes (so beautiful).

Any advice you’d give to a prospective study abroad student?
Moving to France:
I think that you will face some barriers such as language: In France, people speak French. If you have the opportunity to learn French in your university (at least some simple “everyday life expressions”), that would help you to meet people and discover the culture (or just to survive ^^).
Unfriendly attitudes: Generally, I would say that French are open-minded and always want to discover more about you. But unfortunately, some people are not open-minded at all. To compare, I’ve always meet friendly and open-minded people in California. French are more distant.
Well, at the beginning, I guess it could be hard to understand the French culture and how French organize their lives. If you’re interested by learning the French culture, there is a class in Cal Poly where the French teacher explains few things to know about France.  
Well, I would definitely recommend you to move abroad as soon as you can! It will change your vision of the world and makes you more open-minded to new cultures. I’m almost sure that coming back in the USA will be hard after a year in France!

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