By Marc-Olivier Drouin |Staff Writer|
It’s been more than two months since other French Canadians and myself landed in southern California for a quarter abroad. With a couple of weeks to go before the end of our journey, the CSUSB campus and San Bernardino started feeling like home; without the extremely cold weather and snow of course.
When I told my friends that I was coming here, their reaction was all the same.
“San Bernardino, where the hell is that? Go to Los Angeles instead.” Other friends that had already studied in the Golden State said, “Marc-Olivier, you know that San Bernardino is a very dangerous city, you can’t walk alone down the street!”
Beside all these preconceived opinions, for me, your city is not bad at all. Obviously, the city has some issues like any other place in the world.
Back home, people describe San Bernardino as a very dangerous and poor city, but I think that they exaggerate – Montreal and Toronto are also dangerous places where thieves and homeless people are everywhere.
Truth be told, San Bernardino is just fine. The only thing that bothers my French Canadian friends and myself is the fact that there are not a lot of activities to do in the city, near the campus and that we always have to rent a car to go somewhere else.
After seven weeks in CSUSB classrooms, I can now confirm that there is a huge difference between studies here and in Canada. The biggest difference is in the attitude of the students.
I don’t understand how people can be late and miss classes when they pay huge tuition fees. In fact, in most of my classes a third of the students are often missing. This let me wonder if American students are taking their studies seriously.
Back in my university in Quebec, the University of Sherbrooke, missing a class or being late to one is frowned upon and can put you in real trouble. Teachers are used to closing the doors at the beginning of class and if you are late you can’t enter and if you missed more than two classes you are out.
Also, something that we noticed is the fact that people don’t seem to give the best of themselves at school. Back home, there is a kind of challenge between the students where everyone tries to have the best scores and the best GPA. Personally, I don’t feel that competition here.
Up to now, as for the general experience here, every Canadian exchange students give an A+ for their quarter at CSUSB and their experience in the United States. “School is great and we’re near everything like national parks, the beach and music shows. People are curious and want to talk with us. It’s awesome,” said Jean-Samuel Baillargeon, who just arrived from a trip to Yosemite with other French Canadian students.
We officially became proud Coyotes! And, if like us, you want to study abroad and learn a new language and a new culture, take a look at the National Student Exchange program, it makes everything (especially the paperwork) much easier.