In France, the joie de vivre (joy of living) is apparent through its culture and people. It’s a country famous for its revolutionary heroes, art, and cuisine. Imagine the experiences one can get just by being in the same cultural space.
It’s no surprise that people from all over the world are inclined visit the country. Opportunities to study abroad are now much accessible thanks to its Erasmus+ program. As the world’s economy and society slowly become globalized, it’s important to address these challenges through innovation, integration, and entrepreneurship.
Brest Business School, located in the region of Brittany, is one of the institutions in France that addresses these global issues through their international exchange program, providing the best possible educational experience for students. 20% of its 650 students are foreigners. Alina Iigilikova, one of their international students, recounts her wonderful experience in Brittany, BBS, and beyond!
My name is Alina, I am a student of the Business Administration department at the Abdullah Gül University. I am from the small and beautiful Central Asian country, Kyrgyzstan. And I recently came back from France, where I had the great opportunity to study in Brest Business School which is located in Brest, in the region of Brittany, in North-Western France.
My journey started when I came to Turkey. Being an international student in Turkey encouraged me to explore other countries, cultures and people. It made me acquire a taste for traveling. For me, it became like an addiction to discover new things. Since I was faced with the various challenges of being an international student, I was ready for a new challenge in a new country.
The preparation for my Erasmus exchange program to France took a really long time and a lot of effort. Especially preparing the documents for my visa application was a tough process. In addition, the receiving institution did not have a dormitory, so I had to organize my own accommodation from abroad.
I started thinking that I wouldn’t be able to collect all the required documents for the visa application, since it took almost 2 months to collect and 1 month to obtain the Embassy’s approval. But thanks to the AGU International Office‘s help and guidance, I finally obtained my visa and was excited to go to France.
Before coming to Brest, I was informed that the weather of Brittany was quite cloudy, windy and rainy throughout the year.
When I arrived to Brest, on Day 1 it was raining but I did not attach much importance to it.
On Day 2: it was cloudy and windy with intermittent rain.
Weeks later: it was still raining…
So, for me, it was totally unpredictable. I was waiting for the rainy, windy weather, but not in that quantity. 😀 Sun was appearing rarely, and those sunny days were “fiesta” for me!
Also, the interesting point is that Brittany has a very interesting history. During the Middle Ages, Brittany was a separate “Duchy of Bretagne” changing hands between France and England. In 1532 it became part of France. The people of Brittany still use the Breton language on their signboards, use the flag of the “Duchy of Bretagne”, cherish their history and culture.
Brest Business School (BBS) has a truly international environment. I met with people from very different countries, which is so interesting. The education period in Brest Business School is just 3 years. It can be said that the 4 year curriculum, which we are studying in AGU, is condensed into just 3 years at BBS.
Since it is a business school, it is solely focusing on my department. The highest grade in the French system is 20. Professors immediately told all the students: “no one can get 20 points” 😀 , because no one is as perfect as 20/20.
In one of the courses, I worked with my group very hard, did everything the professor expected from us and the professor even praised us for a perfect job. Naturally, I expected at least 18 points, while my teammates were saying that 12 was enough. Finally, she gave us 15 and it was the highest grade among all the groups in the class!
I was just in shock, but my teammates were very glad for that grade, since it is high grade for them. But when it comes to converting the French grades to Turkish… I saw my grades drop below average. 😦 To be honest, it was tough to satisfy the professors. Almost everyday I was spending my whole time at BBS working with the group of my classmates on the different business projects.
There is a bunch of amazing places to visit in France! Every city of France is filled with history and beauty. In Brittany and the neighbor regions, you can visit really beautiful places, such as the Mont Saint-Michel (in Normandy), a little and cute town called Landerneau, the amazing city of Rennes — which is the capital of Brittany — the Lighthouse Tevennec in Brest, Vannes, natural gardens and museums….
If I write about all the places to visit, the list will simply be endless! 🙂
Other than the places in Brittany, I strongly suggest you to also visit Strasbourg, the region of Normandy and of course Paris. It is also a great chance to visit other European countries while you have Schengen visa. I advise you to visit at least neighbor countries like Germany, Belgium and Holland as I did. Since European visa allows it, make most of it. Here you can see some photos:
Travel is a road to yourself. France allowed me to meet with myself again, to discover new qualities, to pump out individual skills. I could manage to travel to the neighbor countries as well. The Erasmus program is very effective because the person tries himself in the different places and conditions, and he/she can check their character.
It was the most intense six months, which changed my worldview, gave me a lot of sensations and information, and also strengthened my love for my home country.
I learned a lot of new things, started to look at things more broadly, rethought my own significance, understood where I wanted to move, where my talents should be realized, and where I would be truly useful.
On the road, I learned to hear my inner voice distinctly and realized that it makes me happy. Exchange in France became such a switch and filled my life with new meaning. The trip gave me a strong push, helped to rise to a new level.
When you get to the countries where hundreds of cultures and nationalities live, you understand that man is a grain of sand, whose problems and any kind of issues are small compared to the whole world. Another important aspect is friendship with representatives of other nations and cultures. If earlier events in any country or, for example, more specifically in the Middle East or in any other country did not bother me much, now, knowing that I have friends there, I shiver. At such times I understand that all people are part of the same world and humanity must think more globally and remove all stereotypes and prejudices.
The provided experience was great. I really enjoyed it and recommend to those who want to experience these feelings, to live in that atmosphere and be a part of the Erasmus adventure. I would like to thank all people, who supported me during this long process.
Studying abroad could be the best decision you could make for yourself. Why not take the leap like what Alina did and experience the world beyond.
*This article originally appeared on the Life at AGU blog written by Alina, with minor edits by the Edukasyon.ph team.