It was a privilege to have experienced a semester at Sciences Po in Paris. Although it was quite intense, the pace, the exposure to top-class teachers, the Sciences Po approach, the amazing course selection, and of course living in Paris, contributed to an experience that I will positively carry with me forever.

Academic experiences

Example of courses I took included European Aid, Humanitarianism, French Philosophy in the 20th Century, and the History of Political Ideas. Many of the lecturers and teachers were professionally involved in their fields and they generously shared their experiences and reflections. For one course we visited the Sénat where members of Parliament were presenting views regarding the need or not to respect religious requirements of children by staff in crèches and day care centres across France. The debate between integration and the respect for human rights was extensive and interesting to say the least.

My French undoubtedly improved, especially since I studied all subjects in French. However, I would have to recommend that it is essential to have an advanced level of oral French, as many assignments are oral presentations with question time afterwards. Also a percentage of your assessment is your oral interaction in tutorials that demonstrate your preparation of readings and research.

Tips

At Sciences Po, we were all warned that we would be confronted with difficulties during course registration. Courses will change from first to second semester and it is best to register the moment registration is available online. The courses disappear before your eyes. Another point to keep in mind is that it is important to return borrowed library books on time as otherwise you will be restricted from borrowing another book for a week, which can be a problem as there are usually assignments due each week. Some books from the library have to be requested and sought in a closed section of the library by staff, which usually takes about 45 minutes before the book is in your hands. Also, there is seldom space to study in the library unless you arrive first thing in the morning.

Personal experiences

It was an absolute treat to walk to school each day and watch the sun rise casting a soft pink light over Notre Dame and the Seine River. The best way to see Paris is to walk it (in comfortable shoes). The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée de Luxembourg, and all the gardens were regular visits. Take advantage of the times when free entry to museums is offered to students under 28 years of age!
 

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