UQ Program: Bachelor of Social Science/Arts

I am a Bachelor of Social Science/Bachelor of Arts 4th year student at UQ. I just completed a semester at Sciences Po Dijon campus, which was my last semester as an undergraduate student (fingers crossed that I passed all my exams).

The Dijon campus is very small, with only 100 or so students. I was one of three exchange students and I was the only student who couldn’t speak French, which presented itself as quite a setback at first as I found it difficult to integrate. However, not long after I met some lovely friends, on and off campus, who spoke English well and who devoted themselves to helping me learn French. Due to the small size of the campus, classes were also small. On average there were 12 to 15 people in my seminars. The seminars I took were only two hours long with no tutorial and no fixed reading lists, although students were encouraged to read certain materials. I was only doing ¾ time, so as you can imagine, my contact hours were pretty minimal. So I decided to volunteer at a Fair Trade Café called Caf&Co, which happens to sell the best coffee and milkshakes in town, in order to fill in some time and practice speaking French.

Dijon itself is a really pretty city. The old part of town is immaculate and I lived right near a park which blossomed with the most exquisite flowers in spring. In Dijon students are treated really well. The ‘carteculture’ allows you heavily subsidized access into modern and classical concerts, cinemas and festivals and the ‘Young Foreigners Passport’ gets you free entry to local swimming pools, ice skating rinks and museums.  The city really came alive as the weather warmed up too. There were always festivals, gigs, markets and street events going on.

I lived underneath an old French couple and they introduced me to the fine world of French food and wine. My five course Sunday lunches had with them are by far my most treasured memories. It was here that I began to understand the French ‘joie de vivre’, as the old man continually repeated to me over a good red: ‘on mange et on boit et on va bien!’ (one eats and one drinks and one is well)!

You can’t go wrong by undertaking  a semester abroad. My advice is just to do it!

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