Molizabeth Sieng

Molizabeth Sieng

Molizabeth Sieng
: France
Program: SJSU Exchange at Sciences Po Lille
Term: Spring 2022 Semester
Major: Political Science major and a Legal Studies minor.
Year: 3rd year

Why did you want to study abroad? 
There are a bunch of reasons I wanted to study abroad, for one, my brother actually studied abroad with SJSU in Australia and he loved it, so it was something that I always thought about doing before I even entered college. Also discovering that Science Po Lille was an option made me want to do it even more. As someone who is interested in attending law school after undergrad and pursuing a career in international law, studying abroad, especially at such a prestigious university in France, made sense to me. Aside from the educational and career benefits studying abroad has, I also felt like it’s important to immerse yourself in cultures different from your own. Even though as Americans, especially coming from San Jose, we are extremely lucky to be surrounded by such diversity, it truly isn’t the same when you don’t just see a different culture but you actually live in it. So I guess to sum it up, I wanted to study abroad because it sounded cool, would probably look cool on my resume and law school applications, and for personal growth.

What has been your most surprising, positive, or challenging experience abroad?
The most challenging experience would definitely have to be dealing with homesickness. Growing up with 9 older siblings and constantly being around family, it was extremely difficult to learn how and get used to being completely by myself. Not to mention being completely by yourself in a country where you don’t speak the native language! Although I definitely do have my days in which I feel like sleeping the entire day to pass time by, I just have to constantly remind myself that I may not get an opportunity to do something like this ever again and that it’s a temporary thing so I should try my hardest to get out, live, and enjoy everything while it lasts.

Any advice to potential study abroad students?
My advice would be, as cliche as it sounds, embrace the opportunity to be abroad. Don’t be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone, of running into obstacles, or failing. Another piece of advice is scholarships!! Take advantage of the scholarships offered by your major department, by the study abroad office, by the government, etc! It’ll be much more fun when you don’t have to focus and stress about finances and can just experience everything!

I received $4,000 from Gilman and $5,000 from the Department of Political Science from SJSU (John Gilbert Scholarship for International Studies). I also am a financial aid recipient which covered my tuition as well as gave me around $4,000 in grants. I created an excel sheet with all of my potential expenses and this was more than enough to cover everything, so I didn’t apply to many other scholarships. I didn’t really need to budget on anything coming to France. I was able to buy a Disneyland Paris annual pass, the Eurail global pass, and other leisure things while still being able to live comfortably.

How are you managing your academic success abroad during the pandemic? 
With some courses still being online and being in a different country, it certainly is hard to resist the urge to go out and explore new things instead of being on top of school work. But what really helps is creating a little schedule, planning which days will be dedicated to studying and which days will be dedicated to going out, as well as staying connected with classmates.

What are some ways that you are interacting with the local community?
I try to go out whenever I have down time. Whenever I don’t have class or just have readings to do I’ll take my laptop to cafes or bars and stay there. I also follow the university’s international student clubs. They often organize fun events that enable people to explore the community through a local’s perspective.

What are some tips for managing your health and safety while traveling during the pandemic? 
Listening to and following the rules and mandates they have in place is a big one. Aside from that, it is important to just stay cautious, aware, and respectful of your surroundings. Avoid things or situations that’ll put you at an unnecessary risk.

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