It’s quite a long way from Mac East to Tours, France

Last spring, while most students walked through the snow between Mac East and the B.A. building, junior Marissa Sayre was walking around the streets of Tours, France.

Sayre was one of the seven students who traveled to France for three months last semester as part of the University’s study abroad program.

While in Tours, Sayre studied French at the Institute for Foreign Students and became familiar with the country’s culture.

Sayre, who is a French major at the University spent her first semester at BGSU living in the French house. She said traveling to France has always been a dream of hers.

“I was so excited when I bought my ticket to France. It was like the best day of my life,” Sayre said.

Tours is an hour and a half train ride outside of Paris, and the group traveled to Paris about four times during the semester.

She remembers traveling on the Metro into Paris and seeing a small orchestra performing beside the train.

“You would never see that in the subway in New York. I was just so blown away by it,” Sayre said.

One of the differences Sayre noticed while in France was in the way the French and Americans travel.

“The French are not into the whole tourist thing,” Sayre said. “They just want to go visit somewhere and live a week in the life of an American.”

“Everyone keeps saying ‘I bet they hated you’ but when I was in Paris I sort of got annoyed with tourists too,” Sayre said. “They were there to take a picture and buy some Louis Vouton, but not to appreciate the culture.”

The cities in France were one of the highlights for Sayre. Sayre said the cities, which are built up around the center of the city with no real suburbs, were full of people every day.

“France is obviously different from America,” Sayre said. “You can walk across the entire town in a half an hour; everything is so close.”

While in France she also visited historical landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Pont du Gard, an ancient aqueduct system that remains intact from the Roman Empire.

“There was just so much history, I was blown away,” Sayre said.

“In France there is just a more laidback culture,” Sayre said. “There is not a sense of urgency like there is here.”

BGSU students met other international students during their time in France and became very close.

“Now I have friends all over the world, and that’s kind of cool,” Sayre said.

After three months in France, six BGSU students traveled to Africa to spend two weeks in Burkina Faso. The students stayed with host families in the capital city of Ouagadougou. Sayre said the biggest culture shock came in these two weeks.

“It was so different. There were castles where the rich people lived and everyone else had almost nothing.” Sayre said.

While in Africa the students studied media and African culture.

Sayre speaks three languages, English, French and German, and she plans to learn three new languages, Polish, Italian and Chinese. She hopes being multilingual will give her an edge when she masters in international business. For her, studying abroad has been a wonderful experience.

“I would say to anyone who is thinking about, even those who aren’t thinking about it, do it.”