Outgoing: Elyès at Northern Arizona University, USA

Elyès Gaaloul is a senior (fourth and last year as an undergraduate student) in Biomedical Sciences enrolled in the International Biology Dual Degree program between the University of Bordeaux and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for two consecutive semesters.

© Elyès Gaaloul © Elyès Gaaloul

Why did you choose to carry out a mobility experience?

Ever since my very first year of university, I had this idea of participating in a study abroad experience. My original plan was to study in the Netherlands as part of the Erasmus program, but as soon as I heard about this new exchange program with NAU in Arizona, I didn't hesitate. The US is one of my dream countries, and having the opportunity to visit the country and study here at the same time is particularly exciting and motivating. Studying in an English-speaking country is also extremely useful for my communication skills and for learning day-to-day expressions and words that we wouldn’t discover otherwise. Moreover, the program offers the opportunity to graduate from NAU and to obtain an American Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences, which I find particularly valuable. 

What are your impressions of Northern Arizona University?

In my experience, NAU is a good university for international students. The Center for International Education is fully committed to welcoming and helping new students. Student events are held almost every day in many spots of the campus. There are also a large variety of clubs that are worth the visit. One of them is the hiking club, which allows us to discover the amazing landscapes of Arizona. The International House Club is also perfect if you want to meet other international students and have some free pizza! 

What have you learned so far from this international experience?

That's a hard question! Even though my experience has not ended yet, I could write pages and pages about what I have learned from being here so far. In terms of study differences, I feel like being a student at NAU, and I assume in the US in general, requires a lot more regularity and autonomy. It is sometimes challenging to deal with all the weekly lectures, readings, quizzes, presentations, and writing assignments that we have to submit according to a very strict calendar. French students are not familiar with this academic aspect and need to adapt to it. 

Overall, the main thing that I have learned from this international experience so far is that the world is big. As an international student, you do not only get the chance to meet American friends but you also meet people from literally all over the world, which obviously takes your experience to the next level. So far I have had the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon, travel to California and the East coast, visit New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, and Niagara Falls. The US is undoubtedly an amazing country that is well worth the visit!   

Anything else? 

Prior to partaking in this international experience, I read many interviews and testimonials from students who had gone abroad and these interviews clearly motivated me to follow in their steps. I hope this article will also motivate students to partake in an international experience. My advice would be: don't hesitate, just go! And wherever you go, enjoy and appreciate each moment, meet people, and explore this vast world! I am convinced that you will have a great adventure and not be the same person after your travels. 

Updated on 19/01/2022