Name: Moaz Al Nouri
Year of Studying Abroad: Sophomore
Degree/Major: Economics and Business
Country visited: France
Why did you choose to participate in study abroad?
Being an international student in the United States gives me a whole bunch of opportunities that are not given to me back home, opportunities that I only understood their benefit by experiencing them one by one. It has also shown me the advantage of studying abroad, being in the middle of students from all over the world. Students who speak languages I don’t understand and follow beliefs I didn’t even know about,
yet were open to share their cultures and learn about mine.
They might look different, but they all think similarly.
So I thought to myself why not take it a step further where I push my limits a bit more. Go explore another country, live a new experience, practice another language, and minimize my comfort zone as much I could. To learn more and see the world better.
So I got on the first plane and went to France…not really! It was not that easy, it took me very long time, I visited the International Office uncountable times, sent the university in France many emails, and even had to go to Chicago for a visa appointment. That didn’t discourage me, though, not even a bit. I was so determined that I wanted to study abroad in France that I kept trying as much as I could, which I am so thankful for now.
What were your expectations for the country?
I visited Europe before, so I kind of had an idea of what to expect. Yet, I went with the stereotypes and thought that the people in France wouldn’t speak English and would expect me to communicate with them in French and that they would not be so friendly. Little did I know! In the city of my university, everyone spoke good English.
I was able to practice my French there but whenever I was short on words, they immediately shifted to English.
Also, people were surprisingly nice! I remember a stranger came to help me hold my luggage up the stairs leaving the metro station, and another directed me to the right place without my asking. Maybe in Paris where many tourists go, you’d find locals who get sick of being asked “where is the Eiffel Tour” and just ignore the question,
which might be understandable, but my experience with the people there was just great.
One more stereotype I went with was that they’d have really good food and desserts, which was quite accurate and fulfilled my expectations!
Something special about the course you had?
From the social side, I liked the fact that I made many friends who were also studying abroad there. They came from Canada, Austrailia, and the U.S., some were actually from Kansas, too. We did not only work in groups on our projects together but we also had the chance to tour the city, hang out, and go on company visits. It gave me a chance to learn about Australia and Canada, even though I was in France.
From the academics side, I learned a lot about international business. We had professors from different countries, including my own, to my surprise! I also got to create a company and do its profile, budget, and benchmark, which was really cool!
Have you had the chance to travel around?
I was so excited to visit Europe again, so I didn’t want to go to France without visiting its neighboring countries. For that, I planned a trip around 10 European cities that I have not visited before. I booked tickets on airplanes, buses, and trains. It was kind of intimidating at first, especially that I was going to be traveling alone from each city to another, but I didn’t let that stop me. I took it as a challenge. I thought of my friends and family members who live in Europe that I would reunite with, and I also bought myself a selfie stick, you know, for documenting my trip, and here are the results:
La Rochelle, France
Prague, Czech Republic
Who knew you’d find your happy place away from everyone you know, in the middle of a foreign country that doesn’t speak what you apprehend?
Moaz Al Nouri