One of the many reasons this website was created, is to help promote future students to study abroad. This page features a summary of my experiences thus far, specifically for middle & high school students. These classes will be following me along my journey, to see the importance and opportunities that are incorporated with studying abroad.
It is such an honor to be able to share this opportunity with you all! I am hoping to take you along this journey with me and share as much of the experience as possible! I will be living in Poitiers, France until June while attending France Business School. I am currently a student at the University of Michigan-Flint where I am enrolled in the School of Management. I am majoring in Business-Marketing and will earn an Advanced Certificate in International Marketing while in France. Although this page is specifically for you, please feel free to roam around the rest of the website where there is more information about what I’m doing and other traveling tips. To get started, I wanted to give you a little insight about me…
After graduating high school in 2006, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was not the best student in high school academically, and I didn’t think college was for me. Neither of my parents went to college and they both continue to lead successful lives, so I figured I would follow in their footsteps. (Unfortunately, this generation doesn’t allow for that to come easy!) Six months after high school graduation, I enrolled at Paul Mitchell the School Michigan and earned my license in Cosmetology. I started working as a stylist and quickly became manager of a salon in Macomb County. I was also a manager at a nightclub in Pontiac and learned that I loved managing and the business industry. In January 2010, I went to visit a friend in Anchorage and fell completely in love with the idea of life in Alaska. I moved to Alaska in June 2010 and worked as a customer service representative in an insurance office doing secretarial work. After one full year 4,000 miles away, I missed my family and returned home. It was at that time that I was able to start from scratch, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. At the age of 23, I found it extremely hard to get a job without a degree so I decided to enroll in college with a major in business management. I completed 2 years at Macomb Community College and earned 75 credit hours in that time.
I battled two major injuries (knee and ankle) while I was at Macomb which both required surgery and months of rehabilitation. Two and a half years later I still deal with daily pain and struggle to do certain activities. Although this information may seem irrelevant, there are actually two very good reasons I’m telling you this… The first, is the ability to overcome struggles in your life. My first injury occurred October 2011 and I was finally back to a normal lifestyle in March 2012. Two months later, in May 2012 I had my second injury. When I realized how serious my 2nd injury was, I was not only upset over the injury itself, but the frustration with being on crutches again after working so long and hard to get better. This feeling was worse than the injury itself. I spent 8 out of 13 months on crutches. During this time, I had to quit one of my part-time jobs as a cashier due to the fact that I couldn’t keep up with the physical demands. The second reason I’m telling you this is because not everything that seems bad is bad. I poured myself into my schoolwork because it was the only thing that kept me distracted from my injuries. It was the only thing I could do that allowed me to feel like I was getting something accomplished while on bed rest. From all my hard work, I finished my second year at Macomb with a 3.89 GPA and 75 credits.
I went to see my advisor about what classes I needed to take before transferring to a University. At that time, my advisor saw my progress and was very impressed with my success. He told me with my grades, I would be able to get a lot of scholarships and that I shouldn’t sell myself short when apply to universities. I left that meeting feeling enthused and motivated. At the age of 25, I applied to the University of Michigan Flint with the encouragement of my family and was accepted with scholarships! Although I received some scholarships, they we not enough to cover all of my tuition, so I continued to apply for other scholarships within the university and also FASFA, which is federal aid. I was awarded a few more scholarships, and also money from the Pell Grant which when combined, covers my entire tuition!
Throughout the past few years, my life has changed drastically. I shocked everyone when I enrolled in college. I shocked myself when I made the grades to get into UM-Flint, and I don’t think anyone was prepared when I found out I earned a full ride! Although my injuries seemed like a bad thing, in the end, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. During my rehabilitation, school was the only thing that could make me feel like I was being productive. I was dedicated enough to earn good grades and responsible enough to keep them high throughout the semesters. I went from “the girl who was never going to college”, to studying abroad on full scholarships! The moral of this story is: Don’t give up. Always remember that everything is happening for a reason and believe that no matter what obstacles you face, it will all work out in the end.
Why did you choose to study abroad?
One of the things that has helped me the most is the support of my family. They have been encouraging in all of my decisions and have helped me financially by allowing me to live at home during my college career. By doing this, I was able to take the money that would have gone towards my housing (dorms), and use it towards other school-related expenses. This adds up to be a large amount of money and I decided, with the support of my family, that I wanted to use it to study abroad. I’ve always loved to travel and try new experiences so this seemed like the perfect way to do that while earning an education. Not only will this be a life-changing experience for me personally, but it will give me value to perspective future employers and companies.
Once I started thinking about studying abroad, I made an appointment with the study abroad advisor at UM-Flint, Asinda. Being that I am a business major, she told me the different programs that would be fitting for my degree and what I was looking for during this experience. My choices were Croatia, Romania, or France. After doing much research on the schools, and surrounding areas, and talking to a lot of my co-workers who are European, I decided that France was the best option for me. All of the schools and programs were amazing, however French culture has always appealed to me and my gut told me it was the place for me!
What I hope to gain from this experience:
There are so many things I am looking forward to experiencing during this journey and I know the possibilities are even greater. French language is one thing I am looking forward to gaining from this experience. After taking 5 years of Spanish in high school and more courses in college, I speak the language very well. I am hoping my French will be just as great someday. As part of the program requirements, I am obligated to take a minimum of one French class while I am abroad. Unlike taking a foreign language in America, I will be able to leave the classroom each day with the ability to use what I just learned immediately. I have never taken a French class before, and just started trying to teach myself online a few months ago when I enrolled in this program. (Yes, I know… I must be crazy!) I have no doubt that the first few weeks will be a struggle, however I am confident in myself and know that I will pick things up quickly. Spanish and French are somewhat similar on paper, so I am hoping my Spanish background will benefit me. (I have unintentionally created a new language that I like to call “Spanch” which is my Spanish knowledge invading my new French lessons! Since the two languages are similar in writing, I have a tendency to use Spanish sounds when pronouncing French words! This will definitely be one unique experience!)
I am also hoping to gain a knowledge of the business industry in Europe. As part of the program, I get to help a French business with a company project at the end of my semester abroad. I will be working one-on-one with local businesses and companies, and will gain a great knowledge of what it would be like to do business in Europe. I know this will be a great aspect to future employers which is always a huge plus!
I could go on-and-on writing about what I would like to gain from this experience, but I know your class period is not long enough for that! I will leave you with one last point… Building relationships. Whether it’s a friendship, a business partnership, a romantic partnership, or just a casual acquaintance, relationships are a necessity for socialization in life and success in the professional world (you don’t want to be that depressing co-worker no one likes!). By studying abroad, not only will I have the chance to meet locals in Poitiers, but there will be other students, just like me, coming to study from all around the world. From what I know so far, there are students coming from South Carolina all the way to India, and everywhere in-between! Like me, they are probably traveling alone or with a partner from the same school. Being the first student from UM-Flint to take part in this newly developed exchange program, I am looking forward to seeing how many people were also brave enough to travel alone! I can’t wait to meet my fellow students, but also the locals in the town. There are host families that welcome you into their homes for dinner, which is a great way to really dive into the culture in France. Although it is still just a thought in my head, I know it will be one of the better experiences I have during my stay, if only for the fact of seeing how they live their lives!
Let’s wrap it up!
For now, I will leave you with these things to discuss. I am looking very forward to working with all of you over the next 6 months. I know this will be a great experience for everyone involved. I encourage you to ask me anything that comes to mind. Please post questions, comments, concerns, or advice for me while in France below! (I know I’ll need it!) I am hopeful this will be a great way for us to communicate, but I will also be checking my email regularly and would love to get some mail from you! (Jesseeleen@gmail.com) Happy New Years to you all and I look forward to speaking with you soon!