A Travellerspoint blog

A week before America

Preparing for another break

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So in a little less than a week I'll be in the US again. And I love this. I love America. Maybe it's because I spent a year studying there. Or maybe because I study American history. It's both actually, and much, much more. Some of my best friends live there, they are amazing people and I'm glad I met there. The downside is I don't get to see them very often which makes every visit to America an even better one. To be honest, I sometimes wish they didn't live so far away, because even though it means I get to travel to a distant country it also means I don't get to see them that often. But I guess in the end it's all worth it.

6 days from now I'll be in New York City. While I've already been there once, it's exciting for me because I'm going with my family and it's the first time in 2 years and a half that we'll be going on a holiday the 5 of us. Traveling with your family means you don't get to do some of the stuff solo travelers do, like partying all night or staying at a hostel and meeting random travelers from all around the world. But let's be honest, traveling with your family can also be awesome! For example, I'll get to go to a Broadway musical and see a Knicks game because my parents like to plan stuff ahead. Not sure I'd have done that if I was traveling as a student. It's a different experience, but hopefully it will be a good one! Prepare for a "traveling with your family" post in the upcoming weeks ;)

Posted by Cleminou 12:49 Archived in France Comments (0)

The ups and downs of being a student

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Being a student and traveling at the same can be both hard and easy. On the plus side, you usually get several breaks throughout the year that give you the time to travel. But then, traveling costs money, even when you choose the on-a-budget option and are not afraid of hostels and buses.

I found that there are different options that let you travel and study at the same time and here's my top 3:

# Exchange programs: this is probably one of the best part of being a student when you love traveling. First of all you get to spend a semester or a year in a foreign country without usually paying more than if you were studying in your home country. You get to actually live in a place completely different than what you are used to and you make life-long friends.
Of course studying abroad is not just fun. You have to deal with home sickness, a lot of paperwork and you have to adjust to a new life. But when you overcome these difficulties, it all becomes worth it.
I had the opportunity to study at the University of Kansas for a year, and it turned out to be one of the most revealing experiences of my life. (more to come about that in another post) I got to live the life of an American student, I traveled around America and I met people that have now become my best friends.
The best way to go about exchange programs is usually to take an appointment with a study abroad adviser at your university and see what your options are. In my university, I could have done the Erasmus Programme, the French assistantship program through the CIEP or the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). I chose the last one because I wanted to go to the United States as a student. You can read about my experience here.

# Working in summer camps: when you are a student, you usually get a pretty decent summer break. And when you want to travel and make some money at the same time, working with teenagers in summer camps can be pretty awesome. Of course, you need to like working with children and you don't make as much as, let's say working at a fast food for 2 months, but it's also so much more rewarding.
Last summer, I spent a month in London working as a group leader with a group of 48 French teenagers (and 3 other group leaders) here to discover the city and improve their English. I got paid to walk around museums with them, while living on the UCL (University College London) campus with groups from around the world and an international staff. Now, I was working on the French side, so I had to do long hours and only free time when the kids were in class every morning, but people working on the British side had more free time and made more money (of course, I only found out once I got there, but hey, that's how you learn) If you want more information about working as a group/activity leader, here is the job page of EmbassyCES that employed the activity leaders.
Now, there are tons of different summer camps all around the world looking to hire international staff and I find it to be a great opportunity to discover a country while making some money on the side and not compromise your studies. If you look on the internet you'll find camps that can fit any of your passions, whether you're into sports, art, religion or you want to work with disabled children or take a group of teenagers backpacking throughout Croatia (I actually just applied for that last example)

# International student associations: in most universities, there is an international student association that organizes weekend breakaways or spring break trips for international students. The good news is, it's usually open to everyone! In my university the international student association (they call it Ulysse) organizes day trips to London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Paris and many other cities for a really cheap price providing you're a member of the association (it's a 3€ membership for the year...) They also have longer trips, for example the Carnival of Venice or a few days in Prague.
Now sometimes they won't be just one associations, you might have to look for a specific language or country organization or just contact the study abroad office. But even if there aren't any trips organized, it's always great to meet international students: they are always eager to go places, so they make excellent travel buddies, and they can become good friends that you can later visit in their home country :)

So these are already a few good suggestions to consider when you want to travel, but you don't necessarily want to stop studying at the same time.
That's all for today folks! Enjoy!

Posted by Cleminou 04:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

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