Association Ulysse

10682259_891630984194216_7075234139645928365_oRecently, I did a little bit of virtual experimentation by editing my first ever Wikipedia post. I, like most people these days, visit Wikipedia often to check random facts or help understand certain concepts. I think it is a very useful tool, but most professors would never accept it as a legitimate source because of the fact that anyone can create an account and edit an article. Wikipedia is seen as unreliable because of this aspect of it. I, however, think its accessibility make it an amazing space to share knowledge. The site lessens this idea that knowledge should only be shared by so-called experts. Wikipedia democratizes knowledge sharing.

While I was in France, I studied at Lille 3 University. For my Wikipedia post, I decided to take my host university’s page and add information about what I think is the best part of that university. I have mentioned in previous posts that my experience there was not all positive. Before my trip, the people at the study abroad office at my home university warned me that I would not have the same resources or support system I have here in terms of advisors who could answer my questions, but I definitely underestimated their words. In all honesty, I found the school to be incredibly disorganized and the teachers to be constantly la10533833_958000377548643_123280929964931168_nte to class and usually not very helpful. The international student office was a complete mess. A couple of my friends wrote about their own experiences at Lille 3, and I encourage you to check those out if you’re interested.

Anyway…that “best part” I was talking about is called Club Ulysse, or Association Ulysse. It’s a club targeted toward international students to become more acclimated to the university. You can sign up for a French partner who can show you around the school and the city and, of course, your language development. I took advantage of their almost weekly trips to different cities around Europe. Thanks to Club Ulysse, I saw Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Versailles, Luxembourg City, and London with some of my best friends at a discounted price. The club was run by an extremely outgoing man named Maxime who also ran Cafe Ulysse which became a hub for international students in between classes. Some of my fondest memories were made through Ulysse, and it definitely deserves to be a part of Lille 3’s Wikipedia legacy.

Chontelle

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Europe: A Reality Check

This post goes out to anyone who’s dreaming of visiting Europe.

Ever since I came back from my semester abroad, I’ve noticed that there is some sort of dreamy, romantic view on France and Europe in general. My friends or family, aft10446558_10205005134316423_3934128377867277454_ner hearing I’ve been, always say things like “Wow! Europe must have been incredible!” or “I’m so jealous!” I say similar things to people I know who have traveled around multiple states because that’s something I’ve never done, but they always respond “Yeah, but you’ve been to Europe” like it’s not comparable. I find this pretty interesting since America is such a vast and diverse country yet its citizens don’t see that. I’ve experienced the same thing when I say I’ve been to Canada. What is it about Europe in particular that we as outsiders put it on such a pedestal?

Part of it is distance. It’s so far that it makes it difficult to impossible for many to actually travel there. This unattainability means that most people only know Europe through movies and TV. In every movie or television show, Europe and Europeans are always depicted as sexy and mysterious. These depictions become reality to those unable to visit the continent. We see the smooth French prince in Monte Carlo or the sophistilatestcated Englishman in about every movie and believe that that’s what everyone is like.

I’m not going to lie. I bought into this myth as well. Yes, of course I wanted to go to France to be surrounded by the language, interact with native speakers, and learn how the language is used in real life, but I was also just seduced by the image of France that I saw in movies like Paris, Je t’aime and even an animated movie Ratatouille made me believe that French food is the standard by which to compare all other food. These images became my reality when it came to France, its culture, and its people.

So talk about a reality check when I got to France/Europe and realized it’s just a place like any other. Yes, it’s gorgeous and has so much history, but all places do. It was a little like the Mona Lisa. You hear about how incredible a work of art it is, and then you go see that it’s just a small painting of a smiling lady. Nothing grand or life changing about it.

The sexy, mysterious European men everyone talks about are really just guys. Some of them are creepy European men who think it’s ok to harass you because you speak English. The incredible food is in credible – if you can afford. I, a college student who works at a fast food restaurant, could not.

Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone from travelling or studying abroad. My experience was absolutely incredible and life-changing. I made awesome friends from all around the world and visited places most people only read about. But there are unpleasant realities. Europe – or anywhere else in the world – is not some magical land where the bad things disappear. They have their own issues they deal with like we do in the U.S.

tl;dr Europe is great, but it’s not perfect.

Chontelle