COOKEVILLE – Faith Judkins made the most of her opportunities as she traveled to Rennes, France, as the study abroad program resumed this summer at Tennessee Tech University.
Judkins, a finance major with a double minor in international business and business management, and native of Dekalb County will soon graduate and take the lessons learned abroad and at Tech into her new career.
“I’m interested in consumer banking with a community bank after graduation this December,” Judkins said.
This was the first time Judkins had participated in the study abroad program, and she studied three programs while in France, each lasting two weeks. Her programs included cross cultural management, sustainable business and doing business in Europe.
“My favorite part about my program was my community of peers, faculty and staff,” Judkins said. “I met the most caring people abroad that will have a lasting impact on my education.”
Judkins said the study abroad experience provided her many opportunities to learn and grow, be it in the classroom, visiting the many historical attractions or simply traveling from the airport to her home in France.
She enjoyed trying new local restaurants and said her favorite food was Galette Saucisse, which is a type of French street food. The French are famous for their crêpes and Galette Saucisse is a hot sausage wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe.
“The most familiar part of my experience abroad was in Paris because it is such a dense location for tourists that it mirrors capitalism most, and what I mean by that is pushy trinket sellers, and at restaurants the priority is good food fast as possible,” Judkins said. “In all other parts of France, the priority is quality at a leisure pace. I prefer the latter.”
A difference that Judkins found abroad was that people are much more closed off at first. They prefer a greater social distance for strangers, but after a week or so she said they open up.
“Americans open up much quicker at first but it takes months or years to reach the core of someone,” Judkins said. “This is summarized by the concept that in America we have what is called peach culture and in France they have coconut culture.”
Amy Miller, assistant director of the study abroad office, said she generally gets positive feedback from students who say they would definitely do it all over again if they could.
“Most students tell me that studying abroad was the best experience they had during their college years, and the current returning students are telling me the same,” Miller said.
Judkins had previously traveled out of the country to Haiti, so this experience wasn’t completely unknown. While she would return to France to visit, there were other places she would like to visit first, such as Italy and Greece.
This summer was the first time that students have participated in the study abroad program in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because of the isolation feelings from COVID-19, most students are ready to get out and travel,” Miller said. “The ones I heard from this summer did not have any issues abroad related to COVID.”
According to Judkins, the COVID-19 restrictions in France are similar to those in the United States at this time, and it was “rare to see anyone wear a mask.”
There are 15 students studying abroad this semester, and this year Tech will have a record number of students studying abroad, according to Miller. Tech students are going to Spain, Sweden, France, Peru and the Netherlands, but the majority of them are going to South Korea this semester.
“We have a partner school that offers a great selection of classes taught in English plus they offer students an easy part time job practicing conversational English with the Korean students and the money they offer pays for their dorm,” Miller said. “Most of our study abroad options are super affordable.”
The next opportunity to go abroad will be Spring 2023 and the deadline to apply is Oct. 15. Students should make an appointment to talk about the options on Tech Connect as soon as possible if they want to go for the Spring 2023 term, according to Miller.
“I encourage all students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities now especially since Tech offers a $1,000 travel reimbursement for all students who meet the very reasonable criteria,” Miller said.
Miller said the feedback she has received from the study abroad students has been positive, that they, like Judkins, had a great experience abroad.
“They said the schools they went to and the experiences they had were fantastic,” Miller said.
Tech’s annual Study Abroad Fair will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in the Tech Pride Room. For more information on the study abroad program visit https://www.tntech.edu/studyabroad/contact.php.