Incoming: Cayley from Northern Arizona University, USA

Cayley Payne is a bachelor student studying biology at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in the USA. She arrived in September 2021 and will be in Bordeaux until the end of June/early July 2022.

© Cayley Paine © Cayley Paine

What brought you to Bordeaux? 

I came to Bordeaux to complete the final year of my bachelor’s degree and pursue a dual degree with the University of Bordeaux. I am part of NAU’s Interdisciplinary Global Program (IGP), in which students spend a year abroad, taking classes in their target language during the first semester and then completing an internship in their field during the second semester. In addition to IGP, I am part of a pilot program at NAU, the dual degree program, in which students take a full course load both semesters and are able to graduate with a degree from both NAU and the University of Bordeaux.

How did your welcome and integration go?

My welcome to Bordeaux went very smoothly. In the dual degree program, there is a group of French students who will be attending NAU next year. They reached out to a friend and myself, and we were able to organize a weekend in Cap Breton, a beach town a couple of hours from Bordeaux. It was a huge relief to already know some people in Bordeaux before my official arrival.

What are your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the city of Bordeaux?

Anytime I tell one of my French friends that I am studying in Bordeaux, they always tell me how lucky I am, and talk about what a beautiful city it is. I can definitely attest to that. One of my favorite things to do in Bordeaux is walk along les quais, because there is a gorgeous view of the old French architecture that Bordeaux is known for on one side and the river on the other. Bordeaux also has a wide selection of interesting museums. I recently visited la Cité du Vin, and was impressed by the exhibit there. It was very interactive, and I learned a lot about the production and history of wine all over the world. I even got to enjoy a glass of wine at the end! I would also definitely recommend visiting the parc Majolan. It is a really beautiful park about an hour’s tram ride from the city center that has a beautiful garden, a bird island, old castles, and caves to explore.

What have you discovered with this international experience so far?

My main goal in coming to France was to improve my French language skills. I have been taking French classes since I was 16, but after a few years I felt as though I had reached a plateau in my language acquisition. Coming to France and getting to practice French everyday has greatly improved my comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. I have also had more motivation to learn, as it’s something that affects my daily life.

Another goal I had was to gain experience in my field of study, which is biology with a focus on environmental studies. I started an internship mid-January with BIOGECO, a laboratory on campus, and will be assisting in their research concerning the ability of various conifers worldwide to survive in drought conditions. We receive plants from all over the world, so we will be able to have a good prediction of which regions and ecosystems will be most impacted by climate change.  

Anything else?  

My advice to international students is to be patient with the administration here. You might not have your class schedule (emploi du temps) until the week you start classes, but trust that things will work out.

Updated on 19/01/2022