Academic Experiences:
I found the academic experience at Sciences Po very different to that of UQ, but also incredibly rewarding. I found everything from the university buildings themselves, the structure and content of courses, and the teaching method to be quite different from what I was used to, but it was really interesting to experience such a different style of learning. Possibly the most difficult aspect of the entire academic process was the online course registration- be prepared for courses to change, and to fill up quickly! Also, I studied half my courses in French and half in English, which I think is one of the best decisions I could have made, as it made a huge difference to my French and allowed me to mix more with French students. Also, I would highly recommend doing the optional language course even if you don’t study French, as I found it to be an enjoyable break from the more serious courses.

Personal experiences/ What I got out of it:
It’s impossible to completely express what I got out of my exchange. I met so many amazing people and made so many incredible friends, and the majority of my time in Paris was spent in cute brasseries, riding my bike around the city, or visiting one of the many amazing landmarks in Paris. Although there wasn’t a great opportunity to travel a lot during semester due to workload, a number of trips were taken with new friends that I will never forget. I was also incredibly lucky in that I found a room in an apartment with two French guys- this was definitely the best thing to happen to me on exchange as I got to fully experience French way of life. Since living in Paris, my French has improved incredibly- putting yourself in situations where you’re forced to speak another language will make so much difference!

Depending on what you want from your exchange, the amount of money you spend can vary greatly. One of the biggest factors will obviously be accommodation- if you want to live alone be prepared to pay a lot more! Food is fairly cheap, especially if you take advantage of all the great fresh food markets that Paris has to offer, and eating out is very reasonable due to the popularity of ‘fixed- price’ menus in France. One of the biggest expenses is the metro, so definitely get yourself a Navigo card on arrival, or sign up for the 1 year Valib card (the public bicycles which are everywhere and incredibly easy to use, not to mention a lot of fun)!

I lived in a house- share in an apartment in the 12th arrondissement that I found using Craigslist. I arrived in France about 6 weeks before the semester started and started looking as soon as I arrived.

5 Top Tips:

  • If you can, try to arrive early before all the other exchange students to start looking for accommodation. I heard a number of stories from other students who, a month into the semester, still hadn’t found anywhere to live. Many of these students were then forced to take really expensive apartments because there was nothing else available!
  • Definitely sign up for the Valib bike card- it’s cheap, easy, good exercise, and a great way to see Paris!
  • Go to Le Marché des Enfants Rouges and try the incredible crepes there- the man who makes them is hilariously eccentric and puts on a bit of a show- not to mention that they’re delicious (the New York Times listed them as one of the 100 things you have to try while in France- he’s got the article printed out and shows it to just about every customer)!
  • Go to the Marais on a Sunday, get a falafel from one of the amazing restaurants there, and then go and sit on the grass in Place des Vosges to eat it- possibly my favourite Paris tradition!
  • Try to make friends with some local students- you’ll get to experience so much more of the French way of life.

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