Academic experiences:
The Sciences Po credit system is a little different to ours; I studied five law classes and one French language class, and that was the equivalent of a full-time semester here at UQ (30 ECTS in the European system). I enjoyed having the opportunity to study electives which aren’t offered at UQ, including Gender & Queer Law (which I definitely recommend!) and French Contract Law. It was cool to study law subjects which take more of a political-science based approach. Law students might be relieved to hear that I didn’t have to memorise a single case name!
One of the main challenges was Sciences Po’s somewhat old-fashioned approach to learning. I wasn’t a fan of their compulsory attendance policy, and many courses had very little in the way of online resources.
Personal experiences:
Living in Paris was definitely an unforgettable experience. It sounds cliché (look at me, being all French), but I learned so much about myself as a person, and I made lifelong friends. I ate more bread and cheese, and went on more picnics, than any sane person would think possible. Paris is an incredibly beautiful city, and the museums and art galleries are the best in the world (and all FREE with your Sciences Po student card!). That is not to mention the travel opportunities which come from living in Western Europe – during the semester, I travelled to Morocco, Spain and southern France, and after exams finished I spent three months travelling around Europe, visiting fifteen countries altogether!
I lived in the 15th in an apartment that I shared with a young French woman. It was the perfect arrangement for me because I got to practice my French, and had a larger/nicer apartment than I could ever afford on my own. I lived close to Sciences Po (around a twenty minute metro ride or fifteen minute bike ride) but because the 15th is less fashionable than the 7th, my rent was quite reasonable. The obvious pro of living in a sublet like I did is that you don’t have to pay agency fees or find a guarantor, but the con is that (as I talk about below) I think this option would be much more difficult without at least some French.
Paris is an expensive city, and I wish I had stuck to my budget a little more carefully! Sciences Po has an estimated budget on their website which I think is fairly accurate -

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  • Coffee: Lilli’s Brownies is the best place to go near Sciences Po for decent coffee. Coutume Café is also good, but a little more of a walk.
  • Accommodation: So many people said that finding an apartment in Paris was a nightmare, but I found it relatively painless so please don’t be intimidated! I did exactly what I was told not to do – arrived in Paris without accommodation for the semester – but everything worked out fine. Here’s what I did:-
    o Arrived in Paris three weeks before the semester started (I wouldn’t recommend this plan if you have a shorter time-frame)
    o Sublet a small studio for a week through AirBnB so that I would have a place to stay when I first landed (much cheaper than a hostel)
    o Used and to find people looking for roommates
    o Phoned/emailed the places I liked, went to meet them and see the room, and then let them know I was interested (If you’ve used Gumtree in Australia, it is very similar)
    o N.b. that a) I speak a little French and b) I have lived with roommates here in Australia; a person who only speaks English and who has never lived out of home I would probably recommend to go through an agency!
  • Travel: I didn’t travel much during semester because I knew I was travelling for three months after semester, but I knew people who went to a different country every weekend! I think you should try to find a balance- you wouldn’t want to leave and realise you didn’t get to explore Paris itself as much as you would have liked!
  • Public transport: I definitely recommend getting a Vélib pass, it is by far the cheapest and most fun way to get around!
  • Food: D.I.A. is the cheapest supermarket chain, and if your neighbourhood is culturally diverse, ethnic groceries are a great way to get cheap fruit and vegies. Resto U, a government-subsidised cafeteria, is a good place to get a nutritious and cheap lunch while you’re at uni (€3.20 for three courses, thank you French socialism!).


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