Growing in Aix

I am officially halfway through my study abroad experience. Time really does fly when you’re having the coolest life experiences. For the first three weeks, I had one class on the Business of the Wine Industry, which just ended last week. This class was unlike any class I have taken before. We learned all about the business of the wine industry, different wine regions in France, demand for wine around the world, and France’s largest exporters. We learned about demographic segmentation for wine consumers, including the target market for different types of wine. We also learned about the best way to market for each segment of consumers. Throughout the class, we had a group project where we developed our own winery. We had to choose the types of wine we wanted to sell, where our winery would be located, which countries we would export to and why, and how we would market our wine to different target markets. This project taught me so much because of how in depth we had to research everything. 

We also got the opportunity to visit wineries to learn about their marketing and production processes, as well as interviewing local wine shops to learn about their marketing tactics and demographics. This class gave me real world exposure to an industry I knew nothing about. All of this information can easily be translated into many different industries. This process behind marketing and researching processes is applicable all across the business world. Having this real world experience was so informative and transformed my perspective of marketing. We put so much work into creating our own winery that it actually started to feel real. Stay tuned for my future winery!

This week, I started my French class, and I have learned more in these past three days than my previous six years of studying French. It’s not necessarily the content, but it’s the way the information is being taught. In my current class, my professor doesn’t really speak English to us. She encourages us to speak French, and emphasizes that we are here to learn. There are only three people in the class, including myself, which is incredibly daunting at first. However, it makes the class so much more personable and ensures comprehension and understanding. 

This class has pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone. There is nowhere to hide in a class of three people. I am being pushed to my full potential. In these past three days, I have learned to take up space, to speak with confidence, to speak strongly, and to not shy away. I have learned to not be afraid to make mistakes because that’s the only way to truly learn something. 

My professor has instilled so much confidence in me and my peers already. Today, we went out in town and she encouraged us to speak to people to ask for directions. This seemed so scary at first, but it was such a helpful experience. The French tend to have a reputation of being arrogant and snobby, but this stereotype could not be more wrong in my experience. Every person we talked to today was so willing to help. Our professor had explained to them afterwards that we’re students trying to learn, and every person was so encouraging. I have gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities these past couple days, which is something else that will be immensely beneficial in all areas of my life, including professional opportunities. Having faith in myself will push me to do great things, and to strive to accomplish the things I know I am capable of. My French class has made this very evident to me. 

There aren’t enough words in the English language that I could string together to express how grateful I am for this opportunity, but perhaps this French saying will do: “La jeunesse est le temps d’étudier la sagesse, la vieillesse est le temps de la pratiquer” which essentially means life is short, enjoy it, and don’t take anything for granted. 

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