Understanding the Rich History of France through Traveling

My name is Scott Waldron, and I am a junior Accounting major in the School of Management. This past summer, I elected to study abroad at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in Paris, France through SUNY Oswego.

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It was a five-week, direct enrollment/faculty led program on which I was joined by five other students from several different schools in the SUNY system. In fact, the most rewarding aspect of this specific program was its dual purpose as a direct enrollment and faculty led program. During my time there, I took an intensive French language course in which I was placed among students from all over the world, which was really interesting. The class gave me a chance to meet amazing people from countries such as Russia, Hungary, Japan, Australia, and Sweden. I still stay in touch with these newfound international friends and have hopes of seeing them again upon graduation. I also took a class in global studies with the other participants in my specific program, which took an in-depth look at France’s position in the world economy. In this global studies course, we traveled to many landmarks and regions throughout northern and eastern France, offering us opportunities to further embrace French culture and obtaining a greater understanding of its rich history. Two of our excursions, Reims and Alsace, stood out as two of my favorite aspects of the trip.

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The city of Reims offered a welcome change of pace to the crowded, bustling nature of Paris. Our first stop on the trip, the Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral, was truly breathtaking. It offered all the history and beauty of Notre Dame de Paris, but its quaint location offered a more personal tour experience, which I prefer. Our next stop, the hotel de ville de Reims, was very fascinating. There we learned about the inner workings and economical practices of the region, in addition to learning about the sports practices of the region, from the Minister of Sport himself, which was really interesting. I had no idea that basketball was popular in such a quiet and less populated area of Europe, so I was genuinely surprised at that. Finally, our trip to the Taittinger Champagne cellars was extremely impressive. To see the intricate and complex process that goes into the making of each single bottle of champagne was truly awe-inducing.

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The Alsace region was by far my favorite excursion. Alsace is located on the France- Germany border, and its location has a major impact on French foreign trade. While there, I learned all about its economy, especially the fact that the region accounted for over 3% of France’s GDP, placing it as the fourth-highest GDP contributor in the country. My favorite aspect of the trip was the bridge/deux-rivres garden. The bridge was built as a symbol of peace following the second world war, enabling citizens to freely walk the France-Germany border whilst reflecting on the region’s rich history. Walking along the very bumpy path symbolizing German-French relations throughout the years was very interesting, and provided countless beautiful views along the way. During our short time in Germany, it was refreshing being exposed to a foreign culture. As a whole, the German population I interacted with seemed more laid back and peaceful than their Parisian neighbors, which was a nice change of pace. However, it was also extremely interesting seeing the German influence on Alsace architecture and culture, as buildings and restaurants alike all had German roots.

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Scott Waldron, an Accounting major and a current study abroad student ambassador, who studied abroad in France in summer 2016

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