College Experience & Minnesota

11903723_10204935374613481_139805085135115346_nFor my International Exchange Program (Fall Semester), I went to the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management (The Business School of the University of Minnesota also called “UofM” or “UMN”). The reason why I went there were mainly due to 3 reasons: I wanted to discover the US and the Uni had a nice ranking, My uncle who’s a professor of University, recommended me to study in a uni from the midwest region because of the great condition to study and to experience the typical american life, and of course, I wanted to fully experience the college experience in an american university. UMN was ideal for that because of being in the BIG 10 Conference  and having one of the largest campus in the US.

Usually, when we talk about the College experience, it’s usually for the undergrad students and not the graduate students (which was my case). However, Although all my classes were for Graduate-level and MBA-level, being an international exchange student allowed me to spend time with and as both, undergrads and grads to fully enjoy the experience and participate to all kind of activities in an american university.

We were about 90 exchange students at Carlson School of Management. Among the 90 students, we were only 20 students (more or less) in the graduate & MBA program and the remaining students were in the undergraduate program. Therefore, it was quite hard to see the undergrads after the welcoming week program because of the of schedule being different between both programs. Undergrad students used to have classes from morning till afternoon while the Graduate & MBA program had usually classes from early afternoon till 9:15 pm. That was a pity but we still had the week ends to hang out and party all together.

Also, each exchange student got assigned a “buddy” in order to help us getting integrated. I guess I was probably  the luckiest one when I got assigned mine. My buddy came to the airport to pick me up and bring me to my student appartment on the first day, a chance that most of the other exchange students hadn’t since they had to use the public transportation or take a taxi. My buddy, her friends and I kept meeting a lot to hang out together the whole semester along, that was quite fun. I think we’ve developped a really strong friendship.

I’m also thankful that I had such great roomies and we’ll definitely meet again in the future!

The quality of the classes, the infrastructures, and the service offered by the UofM were amazing, I quickly realized why the tuition costs were that expensive for the american students. Not mentioning the fact that it doesn’t include the Health inssurance fees, the housing, the foods to buy, the expensive academic books and articles we had to buy from Harvard Business School, MIT, etc… (some of them were sold for more than 200 usd).

The main difference that I could see between the way they teach in France and in the US was the way the students had to study. I think both of them have pros & cons.
On the one hand, I would say that most of the classes in France are based on the contents & materials provided by the professor. Indeed, some specific articles are selected by the professor prior to being distributed to the students, the content of the class is usually compressed and are divided into different chapters that the professor made. Also homeworks aren’t that recurrent (although it depends on the professor) since we have the huge final exams that counts for most of the final grade in France.
On the contrary, it seems that the students in the US have way more flexibility and freedom, I felt like having a class in the US was more like having to debate in class, having discussion about some historic cases or news, asking a lot of questions such as the opinion of the professor on certain cases, etc… Meanwhile, students have to study a lot on their own rather than based on the professor content. We had a lot of readings (about 25-60 pages every week for each course). Those were very long but it was mandatory to read them everyweek and hand out a paper to show that we understood or give our thoughts about it.

Overall, I’m very satisfied. I’ve learnt a lot thanks to this pretigious University and I’m so grateful that I had this opportunity. It had been a long time that I didn’t party that much which brought me a lot of old good memories that I had with my friends in france after high school. I made a lot of friendships during my exchange program whether it was with the local americans or the exchange students. I will probably remember forever those cool days when I’ll be older.