Paris, is undoubtly one of the most mythologised cities in the world. Consequently, it was difficult not to have romantic notions of what my time would be like in the French capital. However, my exchange experience was not at all what I was expecting. In spite of this, the exchange proved to be a worthwile and educational experience in its own way.

For the exchange, I studied second and third year subjects which would contribute to my Bachelor of Arts. These included film courses, a French language class, a seminar on the French Revolution as well as a theatre workshop. As a Sciences Po student, you are required to take at least six subjects, all of which have an equivalent workload of one UQ subject. Fortunately, the passion of the school's English language staff made the daunting workload interesting and accessible. Often the courses required student contribution in classes, which detracted from the rigidity often found in university education.

I met many people during my time in Paris, however these relationships often proved fleeting. It can be difficult to forge lasting friendships at Sciences Po, as fellow students were often so busy with studies. In addition to this, I was not comfortable with the language and the locals often did not have the patience to endure my attempts at self-expression. I hope to return with a better grasp on the language, as I often felt alienated in social situations with my limited linguistic abilities.

I found accommodation close to the university in a single bedroom studio of 11m2. If I were to do the exchange again, I would choose to share an appartment with a fellow exchange student to reduce the overwhelming foreigness of the exchange experience. Everyday chores such as applying for a bank account, can quite easily turn into daunting challenges in this busy and short tempered city. Having a friend who can lend a hand or even empathise with your situation is essential in Paris.

Overall, my time in Paris proved to be very challenging, but ultimately a great learning tool for future foreign experiences. A big tip for aspiring exchange students is to find a friend to help you through the difficult times, as Paris can be a scary and upsetting place alone.
 

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