Dr. Patrick Kiley with members of the 2017 Lyon trip at the Institut Lumiere.

by Emily Mitchell | Guest Writer

I studied at the IDRAC school of business in Lyon, France over the summer. I had an amazing experience and would love to go back. Simon Jacquot is a student from IDRAC who is currently studying here at PC for the year. Simon and I recently talked about the similarities and differences between our experiences at each school.

The classes I took at IDRAC ran about three hours each and Simon told me that he is usually at the school taking classes from 8am to 6pm. At PC, Simon has at most three classes a day and is able to spend the rest of his time with friends and participate in other activities. He told me that the professors at IDRAC are professionals who are teaching from their real job experience. Because of this, they often have a difficult time effectively relaying all the information they know.

One thing that I found very interesting, and somewhat irritating, was that the classroom locations at IDRAC changed every day. IDRAC has many schools that are in the same building and they switch rooms based on the technology each class needs that day.

The class sizes, however, are about the same as PC, about 25 to 30 students. Simon noted one difference between professors at IDRAC and at PC: the existence of office hours. Simon said if he had questions in Lyon, he must address them either in class or by email. I found this difference difficult because I normally utilize face to face interaction when asking questions.

However, the professors at IDRAC answered emails promptly and thoroughly. While the academics are managed differently at IDRAC and PC, the experiential variance extends beyond the classroom.  

The living environments of each school are quite contrasting and add to the ambiance of the experience. Simon lived at the same apartments I did in France, Studio Apartment 9. These rooms are single living spaces with a small kitchen and bathroom. When Simon came to PC, he found living with a roommate unsettling at first and noted that it was hard to get used to.

I found that living alone to added to the independence effect of the whole experience. Living in the apartments in Lyon created an on-your-own atmosphere and less of a sense of community.

One thing I missed while in Lyon was the unspoken commonality I had with students at PC. PC is a small college so when I first arrived, I quickly recognized almost everyone on campus and which created a strong familial quality. Simon noted the constant smiles and “How are you?” he receives while at PC, and how that differs greatly from French culture.

The quality of our experiences also differed because of the college’s surrounding environment. IDRAC is in the middle of France’s third largest city while PC is somewhat secluded in small town Clinton. Simon said one of the things he misses most is the ability to go out and travel. There is no public transportation here in Clinton and it is extremely lacking in places to go. I found the abundance of public transportation in Lyon wonderful because I could easily access different parts of the city and areas around France. Simon and I both definitely miss the ease of travel found in Lyon and wish it could be extended to PC.

Overall, the setup and location of the college is responsible for the variations in positive and negative experiences. Simon and I found that each college has benefits, but they are different in approach and values.