Something that I was really worried about pre-departure was making friends. I was worried that if I didn’t find a group of friends right off the bat, I wouldn’t find any to travel with or do things with for the semester. Luckily, I found that my worries were for nothing, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the 30 other people in my program.
While IES Abroad program sizes vary, the Nantes program is definitely on the smaller side with just 31 students. Having a smaller group has its perks, and it was easy to get to know everyone and form a bond with everyone in the program. While I had a group of friends that I did my traveling with, I was friends with everyone in the program and enjoyed spending time with different people in the IES Abroad center and around Nantes.
IES Abroad Nantes made it easy to get to know everyone in the program, as they schedule a trip for the first weekend. This gave me the chance to get to know everyone that I had met during our orientation week, and also take my mind off of the whirlwind of orientation and everything about the academic side of things.
My word of advice to anyone doing the Nantes program in the future is to be yourself! I know that sounds cliché, but I found that the process of making friends was very similar to my freshman year of college. People in the program are from all over, and from so many different universities. You’re bound to have things in common with some of them! Not only that, but everyone in the program has one fundamental common interest: French! I found this to be one of the coolest aspects of the program, as the French program at my school is really small so it’s hard to find people with that similar interest. The bonds that you form during your time abroad are like no other, as you get to know these people through another language! I loved getting to hear about their home schools and hometowns. There were people from the PNW (where I go to college) AND from the Midwest (where I’m from!) which was especially fun for me. There was even somebody who goes to a school right by me that was from Indiana! It’s safe to say that we had a lot in common.
Going into a new country without knowing everyone is scary. You’re going to feel anxious and overwhelmed, and that’s normal. Everyone in the program is going through the same thing, and it might take a while but you’ll find a groove. By the end of the program, I was emotional to leave my closest friends but even those that I only saw throughout the week, as I truly felt that I had a bond with everyone. I can’t wait to visit people in the program once the school year starts and reminisce on our time abroad. I’m so grateful for the cultural assistants and the wonderful group of people in IES Abroad Nantes Spring 2023. They will always have a special place in my heart!
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Hello! My name is Sophia Barton, and I'm a sophomore at the University of Portland, though I'm originally from Indiana. (Shout Midwest folks!) I'm currently majoring in Political Science and Global Affairs and French, with a Spanish minor. Can you tell that I love languages? I could not be more excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the Nantes culture, and I'm so excited to take you all along with me. Rendez-vous à Nantes!! :)