ANGERS: Midterms Abroad

It’s 5:31 pm and midterms still suck.

This was the most hellish week since I’ve been here, and the only thing that got me through it was knowing that I would be in Vienna, Austria just a few days later.

I knew that this was a study abroad program, but I really didn’t think there would be much emphasis on the study part of that title… Boy, was I wrong.

The Angers program is very different than a lot of study abroad programs. Although all my classes are taught in English and all my professors are from St. Edward’s, I share the classroom with 18 French students.

The effects of mixing two very different groups of students are… interesting.

The French students all understand English, at varying levels, but they are expected to learn at the same pace as us. These classes are preparing them to attend St. Edward’s in the fall.

Me, personally, I love having the French students in the class. Yes, maybe sometimes I feel that it slows my learning down, but then I remind myself how beneficial this program is for both the American and the French students.

I’ve been observing the two groups of students, and it’s so intriguing to witness the similarities and differences that emerge. Although we all have the obvious commonalities that come with being young adults, the cultural differences are astounding. 

But there is one difference that I feel trumps all others: the American students feel (and act) like they’re on vacation.

Well, at least I know I do. Don’t get me wrong: I love the courses I’m taking, and the St. Edward’s professors that are teaching them are pure perfection. It’s just such a struggle to be academically motivated when there are so many more exciting things I could be doing like spending a weekend in Paris.

The Americans have come to a consensus that all developed study habits have disappeared without a trace. It’s such a stark contrast to the French students who work incredibly hard to learn all the same material as us, but in their second language.

We’re also not used to being out-of-town every weekend. I spent the Saturday before midterms on the northwestern coast of France. And the day after midterms, I left on a road-trip through northern France, Germany and Austria. When would I ever travel in the middle of the semester at St. Edward’s?

The answer is I wouldn’t.

Finding a balance between remaining a good student and exploiting this experience is formidable, but I’m lucky that my biggest woe is how to study for midterms while living in Europe.

Two papers and three tests later, hell is over.

Goodbye Angers, hello Vienna.