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### Honest Assessment of Studying Overseas

The University of Denver boasts one of the most esteemed study abroad programs nationwide. With a vast array of over 106 Partner Programs spanning across more than 40 countries, the opportunities for international study appear boundless. It has become almost customary, with over 70% of the student body partaking in overseas studies during their tenure at DU.

As the deadline looms for fall 2024 study abroad applications, I return from my semester in France with insights to share. My sojourn led me to Aix-en-Provence, a quaint town in southern France, just a short distance from the bustling city of Marseille. The program, facilitated by the Institute of American Universities (IAU), offered courses in both English and French, along with specialized tracks like the French Honors Program, the Marchutz Core Art Program, and a certificate program in Wine Studies—a delightful indulgence indeed.

Accommodation options included shared apartments with fellow students or residing with a host family. Opting for the latter meant daily breakfast and six dinners per week, granting Saturday evenings for dining out. The host family not only catered to our culinary needs but also provided guidance and an opportunity to hone our French language skills. Conversely, students in apartments enjoyed more independence in managing their daily affairs.

The academic schedule entailed five courses over a semester, punctuated by a week-long fall break in late October. Many classes featured excursions across Europe; for instance, my literature class embarked on a two-day journey to Paris. Additionally, weekends presented chances for jaunts to destinations like Nice, London, Rome, Bologna, and Geneva, enriching the overall experience.

Reflecting on my time abroad, I realize my narrative may seem matter-of-fact, lacking the embellishments often associated with such adventures. The romanticized tales of transformative experiences and exotic escapades shared by returning students may set unrealistic expectations. While studying abroad did broaden my perspective and fostered a deeper appreciation for my homeland and self, it did not fundamentally alter my existence or lead to profound epiphanies.

The reality of daily life in a foreign land can be far from glamorous. Mundane tasks like shopping for unfamiliar toiletries, navigating healthcare systems in a foreign language, or coping with homesickness can present significant challenges. The initial allure may wane as the novelty wears off, and the practicalities of living abroad set in.

While some may thrive in the face of such adversities, others, like myself, may find solace in acknowledging the difficulties and seeking comfort in familiar routines. It’s essential to approach the study abroad decision with a balanced perspective, recognizing that the experience encompasses both highs and lows.

For those determined to pursue international studies, I offer some advice: maintain a journal, acclimate yourself to the new environment before succumbing to sleep, exercise caution against bedbugs, strike a balance between capturing moments and living them, keep in touch with loved ones, embrace challenges, splurge a little, and most importantly, stay true to your own journey, irrespective of external influences.

Ultimately, the decision to study abroad rests with you. It’s imperative to listen to your inner voice, weigh the pros and cons, and discern what aligns best with your aspirations. While my time in France was enriching, I acknowledge that it may not be a path I’d tread again lightly. For me, the University of Denver remains my cherished abode—a place where my roots run deep.