I am enrolled in 3rd year Bachelor of Architectural Design. for my 1st semester of 3rd year, I went on exchange to ENSAS, and was enrolled in the 2nd semester of 2nd year there. Strasbourg is an amazing city, built initially in the middle ages, and has a very exciting and rich history, and the Alsace region is very beautiful and close to Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. ENSAS is a small architecture school seperate from the main uni, but you can still use the uni's facilities like the cafeterias for cheap meals and sporting clubs. I chose to take all the 2nd year subjects 'like a real French student', which I later regretted, as I was re-learning alot of the history classes already covered in our 2nd year, and doing some subjects which were not so interesting to me. So I really recommend taking the time to choose a few different subjects to keep your timetable more interesting, but stick mainly with the same group as it makes finding friends easier.
Patrick Voegtling, the international student contact at ENSAS, made everything very easy for me so the usual French administration (notoriously complex and inefficient) was a breeze! I can also say that 1 semester is not quite long enough, because especially in North France it can be quite difficult to make good friends. I quickly met most people in the class, but it wasn't until halfway through the semester that I felt like i had really made some new friends.

The best experience I got out of my exchange was the week-long study trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, organised by the school which only cost me about 100 Euros! This is not something UQ does, and the chance to be taken with my classmates and professors and see modern architectural gems by MVRDV, Rene Van Zuuk, and others was truly amazing. I also got to learn some German too, as Strasbourg is right on the border and ENSAS offers German classes I took the opportunity.

For clothing, if you'll be there during winter it can get well below freezing! For example during with first 2 weeks in Strasbourg in Februaury 2012 the temperature did not get above -5 during the day or night, which was horrible because I was really excited and wanted to explore the beautiful city but I couldn't be outside for more than 10 minutes in all the clothes I owned without being cold! I can also recommend to buy your winter jacket there, because unless you pay alot for a good one here, they just aren't warm enough. At a department store or H&M you can get a good winter jacket for as little as 40 euros. For the vintage and bargain lover, go to Emmaüs, it's a charity store the size of the Ekka, with bikes for 30 euros, cool posters (I found some Piranesi prints), an amazing array of clothing and furniture and cheap bric-a-brac.

For expenses, I got an OS-HELP loan of $5000, was being supported by centrelink, and I also had about $2000 in personal savings. I lived at Estudines, a residence for students 5 minutes walk from ENSAS, and a room there, although I could've found cheaper if I'd had the time and energy to look, was very easy to rent and cost 500 Euros/month, which at the time was roughly $150/week. So with bond most of my OS-HELP loan was taken by rent, and the rest slowly went on trips to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and the Alsace region.

My recommendations for an exchange in Strasbourg are:

  • Buy your groceries in Kehl, Germany.  A lot of Strabourgeois do it because it's cheaper, and a strasbourg city tram goes there direct. 
  • Definitely hire one of the Vel'Hop City Bikes for 5 Euro/day and ride around the countryside and tiny villages near Strasbourg and Kehl - IT'S SIMPLY BREATHTAKING
  • ENSAS Student organisations throw crazy parties in the lobby of the school, they are well worth a visit!
  • My favourite restaurant was Le Petit Bois Vert, a fancy restaurant on the canals in old town (La Petite France) where you could get excellent local specialities flammkuechen for around 8 Euros
  • The Indie Cinemas Le Star and Le Star St-Exupery always had interesting original version movies
  • I'd also recommend buying a bike if you can, as Strasbourg is really small and everywhere is accessible by bike.  The French students mostly have them, so if you want to keep up or don't want to sit on their handlebars then go to Emmaus and Grab a cheap one!
     

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