Bachelor of Journalism/Arts
Bachelor of Journalism/Arts

I am studying a Bachelor of Journalism/Arts (majoring in International Relations and French) and I studied at Sciences Po Paris in semester 1, 2014 during the third year of my degree. Sciences Po doesn’t really offer journalism courses so I chose to get credit for the Arts part of my degree and catch up on the journalism I missed when I got back to UQ.

Gaining credit for French was easy as I was told just to choose any courses that were taught in French and UQ would give me credit for these. I ended up studying Français Niveau 3, Introduction au Moyen-Orient Contemporain and Chiisme et Politique au Moyen Orient. The French language class was not too dissimilar to what we do at UQ but I was very nervous about studying a completely unknown topic in French, as my other two courses were focused on Middle Eastern politics. However, I found the professors were really understanding about exchange students and I received better marks than expected.

For my International Relations major I contacted someone at the UQ faculty for advice on what courses to take at Sciences Po and I tried to match these to the list of courses on offer at UQ. I ended up studying US Foreign Policy Under the Obama Administration and Decision-Making in the European Union. The US Foreign Policy course was a “lecture” course and therefore a bit more work than the others, but I found it very interesting and well-taught.

The thing I enjoyed most about the academic system at Sciences Po is that everyone was encouraged to speak up in class and voice their opinions on various topics. I found that the students at Sciences Po usually had an extensive general knowledge on history and current affairs and weren’t afraid to show it off in class. This was a bit different to the Australian culture but I actually learnt how to better express my opinions and I broadened my own general knowledge because of this. As for the challenges – I didn’t know what was expected with assessment standards so a couple of my earlier marks came back as a surprise, but I soon learnt and I was very pleased with my overall marks in the end.

Predictably, Paris was an amazing city to spend 6 months! You can spend days walking around and discovering new places and it’s also a great place to have as a base for day trips (e.g. Versailles and Monet’s Garden in Giverny). I went to the UK a couple of times to visit my family (an easy 2 hours on the Eurostar), the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Strasbourg in Alsace, the Loire Valley for a few days and Italy and the South of France for two weeks after I had finished my exams.

I was very confident with my French skills by the end of my exchange, even though the friends that I made were mostly from the UK. I found that I got enough practise just living in Paris and taking three out of my five courses in French. I also found it quite easy to make friends with the other exchange students in class (especially those from the UK and the US), but if you want to meet French people I would suggest joining one of the sporting teams.

Sciences Po doesn’t offer on-campus accommodation so you really are left to sort it out for yourself and this was probably the most stressful part of preparing for my exchange. Luckily, my accommodation situation turned out to be a bit different because I was offered a discount on a really nice apartment that was owned by a friend of a friend, so I don’t really have any helpful tips for that aspect of the exchange as I got very lucky. I lived by myself and I really liked the privacy and having my own space, although it did get a bit lonely at the start before I started to meet people. Most of my friends lived by themselves and they loved it, although I met lots of exchange students that shared with a roommate or with a host family and they wouldn’t have it any other way!

Top Tips:
• Try to avoid eating out in Paris too much – you’ll most often spend 15 euros on a very average meal in a touristy area so save it for a special occasion and do your research to make it worth while!
• Sort out all the boring and frustrating bureaucratic stuff (metro card, sim, bank account) as soon as you get to Paris so you don’t have to worry about it any more
• Get the prepaid Imagine R metro card – you’ll save loads of money on travel this way
• Explore the old Jewish Quarter (Le Marais) and the nearby Place des Vosges – my favourite place in Paris and not many tourists think to come here!
• Find a local bakery and buy lovely fresh croissants or pastries in the morning for breakfast
• Do the majority of your travelling at the end of your semester so you don’t have to worry too much about assessment

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