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Learning Business Skills in Dijon

By Anne Stevens ('04)
French/Business Management Double Major

Mont Saint Michel

As a large university town, Dijon has a lot to offer students. There are plenty of young people to meet. Although Dijon is relatively small compared to other French cities, the number of students at the local universities compensate for this difference. For me, this has been the best aspect of attending the “Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Dijon”. Along with the twenty-one other Americans at the school, there are Mexicans, Germans, and several students from Finland, Sweden, Poland, and Spain. And due to the school’s small size, it has been relatively easy to meet these students and spend time with them outside of class as well. In the United States, we view people of various ethnicities as being different from us, but in reality, it is Americans who are different from the rest of the world. In my business courses we often discuss the implications of working in a global setting. With so many backgrounds in the classroom, I have learned more from just listening to my peers than from any of my class work.

Attending classes with French students has been a learning experience in itself. In the United States, students never talk in class, and just scrawl some notes in order to listen closely as the teacher presents the lesson. But in the French classroom, students take meticulous notes. They use a ruler to underline important concepts and write with several colored pens. A student told me that he learned to do this in grammar school because it helps with retaining the information. However, it seems to me that they pay less attention to what the teacher is discussing than what he has written on the overhead projector.

Living with a host family is definitely the right choice to make. Since there are other international students at the school, and the French students also take classes in English, the English language is often the most widely used. But with my host family, I only speak French, and members of the family are more than willing to answer any questions I have. In addition, dinner time is an opportune occasion to have lively discussions. Politics is important to the French, so that is often a common subject during dinner. The French are very particular when voicing their opinions on American politics and politicians, so it is a learning experience for all of us to hear the varying attitudes, as well a good chance for me to practice speaking the language. All in all, I am having a great time this term in Dijon.

Anne was offered in June 2013 the opportunity to travel to Zurich, Switzerland for a 6-month work assignment. She leaves the US on July 5th and will stay until December/January. Instead of assisting with the North and Latin America assignee populations, she will be handling Outbound assignees from France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Greece, as well as the Swiss Inbounds. She adds that she is very excited for this opportunity, which may even lead to a longer stay.