My desire to travel to France began in high school. All of my buddies were studying Spanish, so I decided to be different and take French classes. Who knew that it would it would be the beginning of a lifelong desire to travel to a very beautiful and historic place? There were study abroad programs and trips taking place when I was in high school, but my family was unable to afford the trip. Even as an undergraduate minoring in French, the cost of studying abroad was always a limiting factor. Fortunately, as a graduate student, I was in a place financially where I could finally afford to travel abroad and it changed my life.
My first international trip was to study abroad in Tours, France with ESCEM School of Management. There I took courses in international business, sustainable development, and corporate social responsibility and I learned a lot. The experience of being in Europe for the first time was quite an adventure. I took in the historic sights of Paris and several of the famous chateaux in the French countryside. I also made friends from several otherwere students at the business school located in Tours and exchange students from other countries. They were absolutely wonderful. Kind and outgoing, definitely they type of students I’d be friends with in the States. I’m glad to have met them. Over the course of my trip I had enough fun to make me long for another chance to study abroad.
On our last evening together, we enjoyed going shopping for souvenirs, shared a final meal together and tried to go out again only to prolong our time spent together. We were much too tired from all of our studies and activities to be out, so we all returned to our residence to rest. Despite not going out for one last hoorah, I realized that, in a matter of less than a month, true friendships and bonds were formed. Being a business student, I arrived in France with the purpose of learning as much as I could that would help my career. In the end, my trip was less about academics and more about the relationships that blossomed around me.
Ultimately, people are people. Despite our cultural and linguistic differences, we all have the same basic needs and desires. We all desire to be loved, protected, and appreciated. This simple principle becomes a more tangible concept when you are immersed in another country and another culture. My classmates, colleagues and I had disagreements as well as laughter and fun together. There were both tears of sadness and tears of joy. We spent so much of our time together that France began to feel like home instead of a foreign country. We became a little family with our own matriarch, patriarch, and older and younger siblings. The French students assigned to be or guides fit right into our family unit and are sorely missed. Studying abroad is an opportunity of a lifetime and is why I started World Smart. Everyone should get to know the world around them, and World Smart is my way of making that happen.
– Byron Francis, Founder of World Smart