B. Business Management/Commerce
B. Business Management/Commerce

My exchange experience was definitely an adventure. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions, experiences and meeting new people. The whole exchange journey was one of the hardest but also one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I went on exchange in the third year, second semester of my Business Management/Commerce degree. I went on exchange to Lille, which is a small town in northern France, about one hour by train from Paris. It was a mainly university town which was bonus as it meant that the majority of people I met were at/around the same age as me. I studied at the Universite Catholique de Lille and IESEG School of Management, which are essentially two different universities but run under the same overall management team. For me this was very difficult as the courses, administration and workload was very different between the two universities. On the plus side however, it allowed me to study a wide range of subjects that were very different to my study area at UQ such as history, politics and global affairs.

The workload in France was very different to the workload that I experience during a typical semester at UQ. In France I was studying 14 different subjects and was going to university five days a week. It was typical to start class at 8am and some days I would not finish until 8pm in the evening. Attendance is mandatory is France and so it is critical that you attended all your classes. I lived in a dormitory on campus, which made it very easy to attend my classes. I would highly recommend living on campus if possible.

The teaching style that I experienced at my university was also very different to UQ. For most of my classes there was no PowerPoint lecture slides, no recording of lectures and no email or blackboard communication. Classes typically lasted 2 hours and consisted of the teacher simply talking and occasionally writing keynotes on a blackboard. The semester ended with me taking 11 exams in the space of a week! All of this took me while to adjust to but in the end I learnt to embrace it and developed valuable skills such as organisation, prioritisation and time management.

Without a doubt the highlight of the whole experience was the amount of travel I was able to do while on my exchange – even with my heavy workload. I spent my weekends away exploring the best of Europe. I explored the sights and sounds of Barcelona, lusted over the super yachts and cars in Monaco and got lost in winding streets of Luxembourg. The ability to escape on these weekend getaways provided a nice relief to the monotony of university studies. It was exciting to know that within just a couple of hours I could be exploring a brand new town and/or country. This luxury of quick, easy and quite often cheap travel is something that we don’t have within Australia and it is truly one the best aspects of Europe.

Exchange is a is amazing experience but it is important to remember to just enjoy your experience for what it is and not try to make it live up to any expectations. The whole process made me realise that there are many ways of achieving the same outcome and that it will all be okay in the end no matter how bad or stressful the situation is.

When I was exploring my options for exchange I attended an information session held by UQ Abroad where a previous exchange student spoke and he said, “no matter what the cost, no matter what the obstacles, you need to go on exchange! It will be the biggest learning curve and the best experience of your life”. This advice holds true and after my experience I would say exactly the same thing.

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