Ever wonder what it’s really like to study abroad as biomedical engineering undergraduate student? Check our Beverly Zhuge who recently completed a semester abroad at the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon, France. Learn how she approached everything from taking advanced theoretical classes in French to exploring the countryside.
BS Student, Biomechanics and Human Performance Concentration,
Minor in Engineering Management
Study Abroad: Full Term at National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon, France
Blog Website: Drexel Education Abroad Student Blogs
What sparked your interest in choosing Drexel and the study abroad experience?
Drexel offered an affordable education, and the co-op program was absolutely vital given that I hope to pursue engineering. Study abroad was always something on my bucket list—As an Asian-American, I value my identity, even though it has brought about many struggles and challenges. An immersive study abroad would not only introduce me to people from diverse backgrounds, but also be an opportunity for me to grow into a more open-minded, knowledgeable person.
What did your study abroad experience entail?
For my study abroad experience, I spent a semester at INSA (National Institute of Applied Sciences) in Lyon, France as an exchange student. There, I took mechanical engineering coursework in French. I also created and maintained a blog for Drexel’s Study Abroad Office as part of my study abroad scholarship. All of these blog articles are available to read at the Drexel Education Abroad Blog website.
What impressed you the most, both academically and culturally, about your host country during your study abroad experience?
The education system is quite different in France. The engineering courses were significantly more theoretical than the courses I took at Drexel. It was imperative to have a strong grasp of differential equations, multivariate calculus, tensors, and physics. Because these were new to me, I definitely struggled academically. The language barrier also proved to be a huge concern.
Culturally, France has some interesting quirks. Stores are almost always closed on Sundays (even supermarkets!). Restaurants tend to open only during set lunch and dinner hours—I would say schedules are more structured abroad as compared to those in the US. That aside, the French language was as beautiful and the cuisine as delicious as I expected! I was quite happy during my four months of study abroad in France.
What one piece of advice would you give to encourage other Biomed students to pursue a study abroad experience?
I could not recommend study abroad enough! It gave me a chance to not only experience a different type of education, but it also provided immersion into the French language and culture. If you’re considering study abroad, I’d advise you to be proactive. Speak the native language, try the local dishes, and socialize with the university students. A lot of the adventures I embarked on and the friends I made would never have been a part of my study abroad had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and reorganized my priorities.