Samantha Reattoir is close to becoming the first Murray State student to earn a degree from Emlyon University in Saint Etienne, France, in addition to her degree from Murray State, after participating in an exchange student program.
“I learned about this program when I toured Murray as a sophomore in high school and spoke with Dr. Miller and Dr. Mangold about the International Business Program here at MSU,” Reattoir said. “That was about five years ago, but I knew that this program was something I needed to do,”
Reattoir described her experience in France as unbelievable. She said she learned about herself, the world around her and the unique people living in it. She also admitted that being far away from home for two semesters was challenging, but she feels that the experience was rewarding in the end.
“I met so many amazing people and now have friends all over the world,” Reattoir said. “I was able to travel to 12 different countries and countless French cities. Europe is beautiful, and there is so much diversity and history between cultures. The university experience in France was very different than my classes at Murray – I was able to do a lot of hands-on learning in France.”
Some highlights of Reattoir’s trip included visiting friends she made during her first semester in Latvia and the Czech Republic and another new friend taking her to Belgium and showing her around the country. Reattoir’s mother also came to France after her first semester and the two took a road trip across northern Italy and Slovenia to learn about their family heritage; Reattoir said the trip was very special to her.
It’s also important to understand the program Reattoir participated in, which has been sending students to Saint Etienne since spring 2013.
International Affairs major Katherine Powers was the first exchange student from Murray State. Timothy Johnston, marketing professor, has worked as a faculty director for the program and as a mentor for Reattoir.
“As a partner in an exchange program, Murray State aims to welcome an equal number of Emlyon students to study in Murray,” Johnston said.
Emlyon itself is one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe, only conferring business degrees. Murray State students can take third- and fourth-year courses in business, and be taught in English after two years of being taught in French. This makes Emlyon an ideal study abroad opportunity for students in the college of business.
“Samantha is on track to be the first Murray State student to receive a second degree from Emlyon Business School, based on two semesters of coursework in France,” Johnston said. “All she needs to do is to finish her last semester at Murray State, which I am sure she will.”
For the work itself in getting an Emlyon degree, a one-semester visit requires enrollment in the European equivalent of 12 hours of classes. The student can then choose from the courses Emlyon has to offer based on what interests them or what they can transfer back for courses they need at Murray State. As for a second degree program, a student takes the same courses full-time Emlyon Global BBA program students take in their third and fourth years.
“Samantha is an excellent student and is a positive contributor to the Murray State and Emlyon business schools. Murray State could not ask for a better person to be on track to earn the first Emlyon second degree,” Johnston said.
Reattoir considers earning her Emlyon degree the biggest accomplishment in her life right now. Even better is that her experience in France led her to discovering her potential future career post-graduation. At Emlyon she took a hospitality management class and loved it. Currently, Reattoir is applying for hospitality internships across the United States.
As for advice to anyone looking to achieve the same kind of goals, Reattoir’s words of wisdom are to just go for it, no matter what obstacles may get in the way.
“It’s going to be stressful,” Reattoir said. “Applications, getting a visa, finding an apartment, packing and moving across the ocean for five months at a time, getting abroad and being a foreigner. But at the end of your program you’ll wish you didn’t have to go home,” Reattoir said.
Ultimately, traveling is about getting out of your comfort zone.
“Going abroad is catching flights and catching feelings – lots of them – the good and the bad,” Reattoir said. “Travel will fill you with wonder – the truth is that there is a lot more to discover out there beyond Murray, Kentucky; A lot more beyond our own borders here in the United States. The best way to start to understand it and appreciate it is to go out of your comfort zone and start meeting.”