Where do you come from? (Country and university)
Where am I really from? That is a complicated question for me to answer. I was born in Zimbabwe to American parents. I have lived in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Bryan College Station, Texas in the USA and most recently in Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia feels the most like home, but I feel I am an international citizen and not attached to any specific nationality.
What studies have you already done, and what exact programme are you doing at TBS?
In high school, I completed IGCSE and obtained my IB Diploma. Now, I am a full time international student in the bachelor programme at TBS and just begun my first year in September 2016.
Why did you choose TBS over other schools?
I chose TBS over other schools, because I was looking for an opportunity to explore a new country, improve my level of French and be around people of different nationalities all while doing my studies in my mother tongue, English.
How has your integration into TBS gone? What do you feel after your first few weeks at TBS? Are there any services/support which helped you? Any events you particularly enjoyed? Any difficulties you experienced?
My integration into TBS has gone really well. I have met all kinds of different people and have quickly become close to some of the people in my class who I think will turn out to be lifelong friends of mine. The whole environment of TBS is very welcoming and there is a great atmosphere among the student body. I am very happy I chose TBS and I feel I will come out of the school with a great education as well as great experience from internships and studying abroad for a semester. Of course, I have faced some difficulties as I am in a new place in a new country surrounded by a foreign language, but that is really the experience I was looking for.
So far, what do you appreciate about Toulouse: the people, the town, the School etc.?
Toulouse is an absolutely beautiful city. Coming from a small town: Lusaka, Zambia, Toulouse is a big vibrant city to me. Public transportation is something new to me, but is great (generally) as it is easy to get around the city. I love going to Saint Pierre and relaxing by the Garonne with my friends, going for jogs around the city and eating all the great food! The people of Toulouse are very friendly and I have never encountered any issues with anyone. TBS is a great school with great teachers!
Can you give us a small anecdote concerning your time so far at TBS? It can be informative / funny / whatever you wish.
My short time at TBS so far has been interesting, frustrating, amazing and exciting. My first days were a real shock, even though I knew I was in France in a school where the majority of students were French, it was still a shock to be surrounded by everyone speaking French, as I have always only spoken English in a school environment. This was slightly frustrating for me because I could not always understand what was going on with the people in my class and I could not be a part of the conversation. I could understand here and there, but hearing the French that is spoken on a daily basis is completely different than the way you are taught French in a classroom. When you are learning French in a classroom you are taught to make full, proper sentences. Hearing people say, for example, “c’est pas grave” was startling to me because they teach you to always put “ne” before a verb that you put “pas” or “jamais”, etc after. Of course it is just the familiar way of speaking, just like in every language, but I just could not wrap my head around it. I still do not know what is going on half of the time when conversations are in French, but I do believe my listening abilities have improved. I still struggle tremendously with the speed people speak French, but that is what I am here for, to learn. During this time, there was one situation in particular that made for an interesting story. I was filling out the CAF application form with a general understanding of what information I was being asked, using google translate here and there. Regardless of my confidence in understanding what information was being requested I still got one question completely wrong. I thought they were asking for the marital status of my parents, but it was really about me. Due to this misunderstanding, I ended up with my CAF forms saying I was divorced at the age of 8!
Besides the language, I have met such great people at TBS and I am so lucky to have those people in my life. A few months ago, I was very satisfied with the friends I already had, but now, when I look at my life today, I cannot imagine my life without the people I have really become drawn to in my short time here. They are the reason that I am able to feel at home here and the people that I will make memories with that will last a lifetime. I never thought I would be able to become so close to people so fast, but it is incredible how you can find “your” people regardless of location. What makes it even more amazing, is that each and every person comes from a different culture and somehow those cultures complement each other in a perfect way creating a beautifully complete friendship.
What advice would you give to a future incoming international student?
To any future incoming student: I have learned that it is a lot harder to throw yourself into a new place than some might think, especially when you are not fluent in the local language or culture. On the other hand, it is absolutely amazing to be learning about a new culture and immersing yourself in it. You learn something new every day being in a foreign environment. The majority of lessons are not learned in school, but with everything else you do. While some days can be really hard and all you want to do is go back home to what you know best, other days remind you why you chose to do this in the first place and how amazing an experience it really is. Studying abroad makes you grow as a person and helps you to be more open-minded about all the various cultures, places and people there are in the world. This experience is one of a kind and even though you may face some difficulties along the way, it is really all worth it. Stay strong, embrace the culture, be thankful for the opportunity, but never forget where you came from.