Guest Blog Post by Laura Oslick (MBA 2012)
There I was, walking into the airport with three huge suitcases stuffed to the brim with boots, sweaters, scarves, and skinny jeans. I knew I was in for an adventure as I began my three month exchange program at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France. What I didn’t know was how much fun I would have. My only worry was making it through the first 24 hours coordinating with a driver and my landlord with a cell phone that didn’t work and zero knowledge of the French language. With the help of some extremely helpful Parisians (they do exist), I made it to my cute flat in the heart of the Marais district. The next day at orientation, I met all my fellow exchange students from all over the world and quickly made friends.
Classes started the next week. French, the Anthropology of Luxury Brands, Business Plan Writing, and Integrated Marketing Communications and Branding. Throughout each of these courses, I worked with other exchange students and French students on various projects and cases. As a real estate student at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I wanted to branch out and take different classes. I am very glad I did as I learned unique perspectives I can apply to my future work in real estate. Thanks to one of my professors at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I was able to attend the annual meeting of the Urban Land Institute in Paris and learn about the European real estate markets.
During free weekends, I managed to squeeze in some travel. Porto, Portugal was picturesque. Prague was freezing but worthwhile to learn about my Czech heritage. Barcelona with a group of exchange students was unbelievably fun as we escaped the Parisian winter for sunny skies and tapas. I also had the opportunity to meet up with other UNC Kenan-Flagler students studying abroad at other business schools in Europe. I met one in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day and several came to visit me in Paris.
Paris was amazing outside of class. I spent my free time seeing the Parisian sights and getting to know different neighborhoods. My roommate and I spent three months finding the best macaroons in the city and trying new restaurants. The food was so amazing that I barely missed my southern barbeque. As the weather warmed up, I became a professional at my favorite Parisian activity, posing. According to my guide book, posing is the act of sitting in public and doing nothing. My other exchange students and I spent each day finding our favorite spots to sit: neighborhood cafes, the roof of the Pompidou Center, the roof of Printemps, the green grass in Place des Vosges, and along the banks of the Île Saint-Louis as we watched boats float down the Seine.
While my French still isn’t that great, I did pick up some Finnish thanks to my new friends. I also learned some valuable lessons in business as well as life. The one thing I hope I will never forget is the importance of making time to enjoy gorgeous days.