Program at UQ: Bachelor of Arts/Law

Seeing the sun rise over the Seine, people-watching from cute, bustling cafés, indulging in picnics of cheese and red wine and bumping into Karl Lagerfeld on the way to uni – this is the life of a fourth year Law/Arts student on exchange in Paris. 

During my experience abroad, I learnt how to live independently and speak a different language. I studied at Sciences Po and found their teaching approach to be extremely different. The craziest rule was that, if students were absent from more than 3 lessons, they instantly failed (a roll was taken before each class to mark student attendance!). In addition, there was a lot of group work and most assessment was in the form of 15 minute orals or 15 page essays. I was required to study 7 subjects which was a MASSIVE load.

Despite this, Sciences Po gives you an opportunity to study very interesting subjects with professors who are renowned professionals in the field. For example, one of my professors worked in the Prosecutor’s chambers for the International Criminal Court whilst another had been a representative for France at the UN.

Living alone in a foreign city where people speak a different language was one of the most daunting aspects of my exchange. Trust me, however, that if you make an effort to speak in French, after 6 months, you will be surprised at your ability to hold a conversation. On exchange, not only did I meet many French people, but I also made long lasting friendships with students from all over the world.

It was through such a friendship that I was able to visit and experience Cairo through the eyes of a local. I definitely recommend going on exchange somewhere in Europe as you will be in close proximity of a myriad of different countries. In just a few months I visited the French Riviera, Monaco, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, England and even Egypt. 

Some tips for future exchange students are:
1.      Be willing to put yourself out there – Make an effort to approach others and don’t buy into the stereotype that all Parisians are rude and close minded. Explore everything on foot or by bike.
2.      Be extremely organized with housing. Start looking at options early and arrive in Paris at least two weeks before university starts in order to sort everything out.
3.      The best lemon meringue pie/home-made desserts (in my opinion) are at “Le Loir Dans la Théière” on rue des Rosiers.
4.      Great street in the 2nd arrondissement (rue Sainte-Anne) is full of wonderful Japanese restaurants.
5.      Sign up for a whole year rather than 6 months – The number one regret of the exchange students that I have met is that they only stayed in Paris for one semester. Indeed, I learnt the hard way that extending an exchange is much more difficult than cutting it short.

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