Exchange at Penn, Alumni Cherished Friendships
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January 13, 2021
Erin Feeney, Penn Abroad Graduate Assistant
For Matéo Moreau, a graduate of Sciences Po Lyon in Lyon, France, spending a year abroad was always part of his undergraduate academic plan. When it came time to select a destination, he chose Penn for its reputation of academic excellence and his own enthusiasm for living in the city of Philadelphia. Thanks, in part, to the guidance of a former Penn student who had studied abroad at Sciences Po Lyon, Matéo’s transition into his studies at Penn was largely free of surprise or challenge.
Now, after completing his double master’s degree at Sciences Po Lyon and the Sorbonne in International Relations and Public Relations, Matéo works in a public relations agency of the Publicis Group in Paris, France. His year at Penn had a lasting impact on his life, broadening his perspectives and changing his understanding of mobility. “I realized how easy it was to travel, go places and live somewhere else. Therefore, last year, I came back to live in the US for a few months; I settled in New York for my internship at the UN,” he said.
At Penn, Matéo took mostly international relations courses, and a few communication, art history, and photography courses as well. He enjoyed the flexibility that Penn students have in choosing their courses and schedules, as well as his classes with smaller numbers of students. “I could feel that my brain had practiced during these classes, which were challenging (in a good way), stimulating, and took me out of my comfort zone...classes based on discussions and debates had so many take-aways for me: practicing English, learning vocabulary, but also confronting my ideas/culture and what I had learned in France before,” he said.
Above all, Matéo cherishes his memories with friends he met at Penn. His favorite memory from the year is his birthday night, when two Penn students, knowing he was feeling homesick, bought a bottle of French champagne to toast just as he would typically do at home. Then, they all went to dinner together at a nice restaurant in center city. “This day felt so good and so refreshing; both of these friends had already lived abroad and I knew they knew how I was feeling, and it was such a nice moment to feel that connected with them. I think that is my favorite memory; a memory about friendship and French cliché,” he said.
For Penn students hoping to study abroad in France, Matéo has one piece of advice: “People often say that it is easy to meet and get in touch with Americans but way harder to make friends with them. It is the exact opposite with French people. Go meet them, even if they are cold and distant in the first place.”