“America! Isn’t it the dream of all the international students? I’ve always wanted to face new experiences. Studying abroad is definitely the best opportunity I’ve ever had during my entire academic background,” said Ivan Valentin Hugo Ferret, junior integrated marketing communication major from France.
Ferret loves travelling, and thus far he has been all over Europe, including Spain, England, Italy, Greece, Austria, Germany, Croatia as well as Tunisia and Egypt in Northern Africa.
Ivan finds it strange that people don’t use mayonnaise with fries in America while they both always come together in France. When he first went to McDonalds, the first thing he asked after ordering fries was mayonnaise.
“Even the waitress did not know where it was. This is probably one of my first tiny but laughing experience I have had here,” he said.
He also thinks that it will take him a little longer to get used to American dinner times because its too early for him as he is used to having dinner at 9 p.m. “When I’m craving a bagel … Well, too late, sorry we are closed,” he said.
Ferret is happy about how Americans take time to speak with him, establish friendship with him as well as helping him whenever needed. “I feel really good approaching them. Americans do not make fun of us when we commit a whole bunch of terrible grammar mistakes in only one sentence – at least they do not do it in front of us,” he said.
Though he sometimes misses his friends and family back home, he tries to accustom himself by getting involved in on-campus activities. He tries to find something new to learn every week, such as new events, new conferences, new games, etc.
“I really like literature and sports, especially running. As I tried to join a running club, I discovered that there is no club yet. Too bad, if someone reads this and wants to run for a while, let me know to run together,” he said.
What he finds challenging in Rock Hill, however, is finding an internship that suits his major and college circumstances “because all the RH Departments need someone with excellent writing skills. Well, how could we have any chance while we are not as good as Americans in English writing,” Ferret said.
Stereotypes have to come from somewhere, but they are not always true.
Ferret, based on what he has found out, said that when Americans think of a French guy, “he is thin, wearing a striped T-shirt, long black coat, smoking his cigarette on the sidewalk while yelling at everyone. Well, this might partly be true, but don’t get too excited because all of us are not that romantic and wine enthusiastic.”
Ferret finds education system here and in France so different, especially when it comes to grading criteria and financial support from the state because the government gives them free education, but they don’t have such extracurricular activities on campus, such as the gym and different clubs and organizations. Also, instead of doing A, B, etc. for grades, they go from 0 to 20.
“[Neither] of the systems is bad, but different,” Ferret said.
Facts about France
The name France comes from the Latin word “Francia,” which means “the country of the Franks.”
Capital and largest city: Paris
President: François Hollande
Prime Minister: Manuel Valls
Population: 66, 616,410
GDP: 2.333 trillion
Government: Unitary state, Semi-presidential system, Constitutional republic