February 10, 2023

Abby in Paris

By Abby Wurzbach '23

It’s your senior year and you’ve started applying to colleges, visiting campuses, and sitting in on countless information sessions where admissions counselors and students throw millions of bits of information at you at once. All of this information is great, but what is that ONE thing that you need your university to have?

Maybe it is a certain sport, or even a certain major. For me, I asked every university I visited whether or not they had study abroad opportunities.

I was almost always met with “Yes! We offer study abroad on our campus!” and not too much information otherwise. However, at York College, I learned about the potential for joining an organization called the Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows Program that would actually help fund my abroad experience. Not only would they contribute to the cost of an abroad tuition, but they would also provide additional support in terms of grant funding if I could figure out a project to do with a university while I was abroad!

Three years (and a pandemic) later, I was enrolled at the American Business School of Paris in France. Despite the country being shut down just a year or so earlier, I found myself boarding a plane to a place where I’ve never been and where I didn’t speak the language, leaving the city I’ve called home for the past 21 years of my life: York.

I know what you might be thinking: “This girl is CRAZY! How is she moving to another country after never having left her hometown? AND she doesn’t speak the language? She’s never going to make it.”

To be honest with you, I definitely had the same thoughts as I began my experience. I was scared as I stepped off of the plane and made my way to my apartment. Even finding my first meal felt like one of the biggest struggles of my life. 

However, as those first couple days went by, I slowly but surely found my footing. Orientation started up at my university, The American Business School, and the staff there made me feel welcome and seen. York College partnered with a university that allowed me to take an entire course load while abroad and not miss a beat when it came to finishing my degree back home.

And the Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows Program? I was able to take a trip to a university in the Netherlands while abroad, fully funded by the Graham Program, to connect with students on that campus. 

I will be honest, studying abroad was difficult. There were times where things felt impossible when it came to learning the language or getting fully integrated into French culture. However, with those valley lows also came mountaintop highs–quite literally…I climbed the French Alps while abroad! 

No matter how I was feeling, I knew I had my home university just an email or a Zoom call away. The support I received from my academic advisor, my mentors in the Graham Fellow Program, and my friends back home at York College got me through those tough experiences and made the positive ones just that much sweeter.

Studying abroad had always been a dream that I wasn’t so sure I would have gotten once COVID hit during my first year. However one thing is for sure: York College is dedicated to providing their students with a quality education, on campus and abroad. Thanks to York, I was able to spend an entire semester in Paris, France, learning, adventuring, and growing along the way.