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Student Reports: Catherine Julson, France, 2011

Catherine Julson in France

I attended ECAM-Lyon in Lyon, France for 6 weeks through the IPL International Summer School. I took classes at both the CPE Lyon and ECAM campus. I took 3 hours of French class in the morning and 4 hours of engineering class in the afternoon 4 days a week. My French class was intermediate level and all in French. My teacher refused to speak English to us, so it pushed me to learn a lot quickly. We gave presentations and played in French, two things I didn’t know I was capable of doing before I went to France!

Catherine Julson
Catherine Julson, a senior in industrial engineering, studied abroad in France for six weeks through the IPL International Summer School.

The first 3 weeks of my class were about circuits and motors and the last 3 were about renewable energy. We would have an hour and a half of lecture followed by a 2 hour lab. The labs were very hands on and helped me understand the material so much. There were only 5 people in my engineering class with 3 teachers so I got a lot of one on one attention. I actually enjoyed about learning about circuits, which I had never done before! My teachers were very patient and explained things as many times as I needed them to!

After class we got to meet a lot of students who were from France and lived on the ECAM campus. They were extremely hospitable and told us fun places to go. I got to practice my French skills with them and learned a lot about the culture from hanging out with them. It was so interesting to learn about how their school system works. There engineering program is set up very differently than ours. They all go five years and have a mandatory 6 month to year internship. Their classes are more specific early on and they have no general requirements. They take only engineering classes all the time.
I lived in a dorm on the CPE Lyon campus. There were 27 students total on my program from Argentina, Mexico, Tunisia, Canada, Japan, and America. I was the only one from the south! In our dorms were other students who lived there all year who were from Spain, Portugal, Senegal, Cote d’Ivore, and South Africa! I was exposed to so many cultures and so many languages! Sometimes I would be in a room with 5 people and we didn’t share a language in common! There was a lot of translating going on and a lot of learning. Everyone was open to learn! I was surrounded by a lot of Spanish in the dorms. They also encouraged me to try, even though I was horrible!

Overall I had a very positive experience. I learned a lot about navigating a city, traveling on your own, and became much more independent. It was a unique experience that I will never forget!

June 10, 2011
A group of 14 of us went down to the French Riviera this weekend and it was so gorgeous! We went to the town of Marseilles and I have literally never seen a more gorgeous view in my life. I could have stood up there all day. You could see so far and the water was so blue! Then from there we went to Nice and I stayed in my first hostel. It was actually really nice! At the hostel was a group of 3 guys who were from the US and Canada and have been studying abroad in Estonia for a year. There are just people from all over here and it is so fun!

Catherine Julson at the Eiffel TowerParis was absolutely amazing! It felt like I was in a movie because I have seen all so many times already! Seeing it in real life was lovely. We did so much walking along the Seine and then decided to be done with that and took a cruise along the river. We were there for Bastille Day so we got to watch the best fireworks show I have ever seen at the Eiffel Tower. There was a huge concert before the fireworks with over a million people at it! It was quite an experience. Just being there with people from all over the world was amazing. I got to watch fireworks in Paris with people from Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Americans, and of course the French. It was a night I will never forget.

I got to go hiking in the Alps! I went to Chamonix and hiked Mount Blanc. From the top you could see Switzerland, Italy, and France at once! It was absolutely breathtaking. I saw “la mer de glace”, the sea of ice at the base of the Dru, one of the tallest mountains in the Alps. Another experience I will never forget!