Lets face it, New York can get hectic and sometimes you just need a break. So why not take a semester or even a year and study abroad in London, Paris, Berlin, Sydney or even Iceland? Paris is a great location, offering many different options for students doing direct exchange programs from great art and design schools across the globe. I chatted with Andrea Pardo, a Design & Management senior, once she returned from her semester abroad in Paris. Andrea, whose interests in design include marketing, talked with me about her time abroad and why she totally recommends it.
Lauren Davis: Hey Andrea! I bet it feels great to be back here at Parsons after a semester away! What school did you study at and for how long?
Andrea Pardo: I studied at Ensci Les Ateliers, an exchange school with Parsons in Paris. I went this past spring during my junior year in Design and Management. The semester begun at the end of January and ended at the beginning of July.
LD: Awesome, why did you decide to study abroad?
AP: I’d been in New York most of my life. I love Parsons but I wanted to learn design from another perspective and broaden my horizons. I’ve also always loved Paris – I’d been prior and I studied French in high school as well, which definitely came in handy since this school was taught exclusively in French.
LD: What preparations did you need to make before going abroad?
AP: To prepare for this trip, there’s a number of things you need to do. There’s the internal application process through Parsons, which includes meeting with the study abroad office and then your advisor to make sure you’ll be able to take the classes you need to stay on track. You also need recommendations, and then once you’re approved you can go ahead and apply for your visa.
LD: What kinds of classes did you take while in Paris?
AP: The school I attended while in Paris was an industrial design school. I decided to take a graphic design class, a mapping class, and a contemporary art class where we visited galleries throughout Paris, as well as a class where we designed for a children’s press company. These classes were able to be transferred as either electives or history classes for me back at Parsons.
LD: What was your most memorable experience while overseas?
AP: Traveling around Europe while I was in Paris was great and just being able to backpack through Italy and Spain, and visit places like Amsterdam, Morocco, England and Scotland was amazing. But I think the most memorable experience as it pertains to school was definitely just being able to present my work in a completely different setting, in a different language to a totally different culture.
LD: It seems like you had some really great and enviable experiences! Why would you recommend studying abroad?
AP: I would definitely recommend studying abroad because of all the amazing new people and different experiences you’ll have! It’s always great to have a fresh and different perspective, and not only will you see design differently, you’ll see the world differently as well. You’ll become immersed in the culture and because you’re there for over 4 months, you won’t feel like just a tourist in a foreign city. Studying abroad forces you to adapt yourself in many different ways – you realize there is much more out there than just New York.
LD: Any advice for students having cold feet about studying abroad?
AP: All the requirements may initially seem a little ridiculous but it’s so worth it in the end just because of all the things you seen and the people that you’ll meet. For me it was a nice break before my senior year and being in Paris has definitely inspired my work.