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Engaging in the International Classroom

Traveling for class is a foreign concept to us. Sure, we may walk a few minutes to class, or even commute to campus, but traveling to a place normally visited for leisure with the purpose of taking classes is different to me. Therefore, I feel as though it didn’t really set in that we are taking real classes until I was sitting in them.

As a biology major, my classes at Drexel consist of either lectures on cell biology, physics recitations or drawing organic molecules. Needless to say, I was looking forward to a break from the scientific. In Montpellier, I am taking a food and culture class, a film class and a Mediterranean history class – all very different from my usual STEM courses. The professors are all very knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach; that goes a long way in making a two-hour class engaging. Some professors even take us on walking tours of the area during class time!

Montpellier is home to the oldest existing medical school in Europe, seen on one of our walking tours!

The one thing I was surprised about is the amount of readings we have to do. As a Drexel student, you will be taking three classes in Montpellier and each professor assigns two to three readings a night. Because this is an accelerated program, we are only in the classroom for 16 days total when you factor in all the field trips! So, it makes sense that we have to supplement class time by reading some of the content beforehand. My tip to you is to stay on top of the readings! The first week is especially overwhelming; between making new friends, exploring Montpellier and catching up on sleep, your homework may not be your primary concern, or even on your radar. Luckily, Drexel’s quarter system has taught us time management and I’ve putting those skills to use here. Reading a few articles between classes, before going out at night, or on the train is a great way to fit work into a dead space. 

The professors understand that we are here for a cultural experience, not to sit in a classroom all day. In addition to small walking tours, they have organized day trips to the surrounding areas (more posts on that to come) and give us things to think about when visiting Paris as a group. As opposed to a normal lecture style class, all my classes here are discussion based, which leads to a more engaging classroom environment. The best thing is that when you’re in classes, it’s evident that you’re in classes in France; it’s not like the coursework could be taught back at Drexel because everything is tailored to what we observe outside the classroom, walking the streets and landscapes of this beautiful country.

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