Study Abroad Blog: From Cefam to Rider

By Marie Virtt

August 30th, 2011, I am flying in the air heading to the United States…Rider University, here I come!

It was hard for me that day to realize that after 3 years of studies at Cefam – the GREATEST Franco-American business school located in France (Lyon) – my dream and goal of spending a year in the United States was finally becoming a reality. Why the United States? I had three main reasons: to discover its most stunning and exciting cities, to meet fun and American students and, last but not least, to get an outstanding education as well as work experience. It was clear to me that Rider University was the best choice out of Cefam’s five American partner schools; I would spend my senior year studying on a gorgeous medium-sized campus, near Philadelphia AND New York (OMG!!!). The benefit of a stirring Global Supply Chain Management program was exactly what I was looking for, and it was precisely what Rider offered.

Virtt and her friends that are studying abroad here at Rider from all over the world, photo credit: Marie Virtt

I have been living and studying here for 5 months now… TIME FLIES BY SO QUICKLY. It has been an amazing experience. Rider is like home. We, the international students, all live at Gee Hall: the greatest place to live on campus (no offense to the others ;)). Getting to know each other and discovering one another’s cultures it just a blast! My neighbors are American, Austrian, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or Vietnamese! It is a pleasure to live with them and they make every day fun! One of the concerns I had before coming here was (I must admit) living in a 15-meters-square room with a roommate. I really feared it would be difficult to manage (for many reasons, which I’m sure you can imagine and would fear too)! But it turned out that sharing a room is also one of the greatest things that I have experienced so far: my roommate (who is Austrian and has the same name as me!) is the nicest and funniest girl ever. I know that sharing a room has been tough for some people, thus I realize how lucky I am to have her as my roommate! But for those of you who might live a similar experience one day, I just want to say that it is an amazing and ideal way to build a friendship and have fun!

Virtt in Manhattan, photo credit: Marie Virtt

There is so much to say about life in America… I would have to write a book to speak about everything I’ve observed so far (which will probably not happen soon…haha), but for now I would just like to share my opinion about this famous perception of the United States that people have had for decades:

Is America the place where everything becomes possible and anyone can succeed?

So far, it really seems to me that… yes, it is. I base this idea on my observation that Americans truly believe in hard work: most students have several jobs in addition to their courses (wow!) and any full-time employee works more than 40 hours per week (compared to 35 hours in France for the recall). In other words, in order to succeed, it is critical to understand that nothing comes without hard work…and I feel like this is one of the most valuable lessons that this American experience has taught me so far.

Virtt at Magnolia Bakery in New York City, photo credit: Marie Virtt

Now that this BIG question has been tackled, let’s go back to something lighter: the FOOD! (Which is actually not light AT ALL…haha) oh! The calories!: cream-cheese bagels, magnolia bakery cupcakes, ice cream, cheese cake, pumpkin pie, thanksgiving food… I love you and I want you! These are “pleasures in the mouth”!

Else than the food and most importantly, it has been really easy to adapt and integrate to this new environment thanks to how welcoming the Americans are! I love my country too, but I know that most French people would not have been so warm, smiling, and welcoming when dealing with incoming foreign students.

I am already over half-way through this exceptional year, but I have no doubt that the coming months are going to be as exciting and enriching as these past five have been. I am looking forward to living them, and I encourage all foreign exchange students to come to Rider because I guarantee that they will have the greatest time of their life!

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