Nicole Delgiglio: Culture Shock in Caen
Arriving in Caen after being in Greece for ten nights was quite the adventure. Excited to start our study abroad experience but sad to leave the Greek sunshine, Thanh, Kimia, Sian and I arrived in Caen at approximately 5pm the day before classes started. Lee and one of our student mentors, Grace-Ann, met the four of us at the tram station. We were very happy to be greeted by a familiar face.
Arriving on a Sunday, Caen was a very quiet city and we were starving. Our student residence is newly renovated, and we were placed in rooms on the same floor of the building, which was a relief. After a much needed pizza delivery dinner and some sleep, the next day we started our first day of school. Being the only five Canadians amongst seventy Indians, we immediately felt out of place. They spoke loudly, interrupted the teacher, had yelled in the hallways until 2am the night before, and were all around unfriendly to us.
The instructor stood in the front of the room and explained that there would be a very large business project due at the end of the four weeks that involved a 20-page written report. She then went on to say that she would be breaking up the five Canadians into different groups. We were very upset. We waited after class to ask to be put back together. The Indians were not impressed to have us in their groups either. It was all around a very stressful day full of culture shock and language barriers.
The next morning, we woke up and headed back to school. We made an effort to be extremely friendly to the students from India and attempted to keep an open mind. After school, we were all together in the kitchen making dinner and Indian students from our floor came in and invited us to a “party” they were having that night. So, we all got together, had an AMAZING time, shared differences between India and Canada, and made tons of new friends.
Since our building “party” we have made many good friends and have bonded with the Indian students. The Canadians have been invited to traditional dinners made by the Indian students, and we even took a trip to Paris with three of the Indian students last weekend. My advice for anyone (student or otherwise) put in a situation that makes them uncomfortable – try your best to embrace change, you will probably be very surprised by the good that can come from having an open mind.
Nicole is a fourth year Bachelor of Business Administration student studying abroad at EM Normandie's Summer School in France and Belgium.