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IES Business & International Affairs, Paris, France
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Cydney James

Major: International Relations
Minor: Meda Studies
Hometown: Mt. Kisco, NY

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My time in Paris has been incredible. I have gained a completely new perspective on life. Although some might think that life in Paris is similar to that of life in American cities such as New York, it's a very different culture. Whether it is customs, etiquette, fashion, social norms, these all impact everyday life. Not only have I been able to experience Paris, but I have had the opportunity to travel to other cities across Europe, which has been unbelievable. Plus, I have made incredible friends through this journey, people that I plan on staying in touch with. These new friends are from all over the country, so their social norms are different from my own as well, which is really interesting to see as we all try to assimilate into a completely new culture.

I have made incredible friends through this journey, people that I plan on staying in touch with.

How did this experience impact you academically?

My academic experience has been much different than the one that I am used to at home. I truly felt that I was treated more as an adult on campus at Penn State than I did while in another country. I thought, coming into this experience, that school might be more laid back than what I was used to and that the coursework might not be as heavy, but I was wrong about that. The teachers graded on a pretty tough scale for a lot of my classes. I know that academics in France are treated much differently than they are at public universities in America, especially ones the size of Penn State. It is taken much more serious here and the grading scale is very different.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

As of right now, I am not sure of my career goals and plans, so this is a difficult question to answer. I am currently thinking about a career that is different from my major. I am studying Political Science, and over the past couple of years, current events have swayed me in a different direction. My minor is in Communications and I believe that I would much rather do something in that field. It's much more creative and freethinking. I have loved learning how other cultures take in advertisements, news, music, fashion - everything.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend studying abroad. It is a time unlike anything else. At what other point in your life can you guarantee that you will be able to take a few months and move somewhere else in the world. Wherever you want to study, you should do it. Paris, Tokyo, Rio, it doesn't matter, just take the opportunity. I believe it is more enriching than sitting in a classroom. We do that here too, but after that, we go to a museum or explore a new neighborhood, and on the weekends, we travel to other cities, like Munich, London, Copenhagen; it's unbelievable.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website. 
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