Hello. In Semester 1 in 2013 I studied in Paris at Sciences Po University. The program I am enrolled in is a bachelor of economics and a bacelor of arts.Though for the semester abroad I only studied courses for my arts programs, which is an extended major in political science. I enrolled at Sciences Po university for its prestige as a political institution, and found early on that it certainly is renowned around Paris as being a formidable institution, with incredibly high entrance standards and in general a very daunting university. This was translated into the comparatively more demanding workload that we underwent at Sciences Po, with 6 subjects and each subject having at least as much and in some cases alot more assessment than UQ. However, the bureaucracy and organisation of the university was a constant source of annoyance and irrittation. This university reminded me of UQ in terms of its difficulty, and the subjects were not 'better' than UQ's in any quantifiable sense. The University had an overestimated renown that was generally concurred by international students.

The saving grace of this university was the real reason for this journey and the reason why I have just concluded the greatest 6 months of life; its location PARIS! Paris is a fantastic city (albeit the weather was a little miserable) with enough entertainment and fun to last a 1000 years. My UQ comrades and I found ourselves saying that's cooler than anything in Brisbane on every second street we walked down. This combined with the fantastic atmosphere of an exchange (everyone wants to have fun, meet people and explore the city) resulted in the greatest experience of my life and I suspect a lot of my new friends. Although, Paris does ruin your health - i swear i've gained 10 kilos over the exchange.

Now, back to the practical side, accomodation and expenses. I lived with a couple of other Brisbanites, one of whom I've known for a long time and the other I met as we went of exchange. It is cheaper to board up with people and apply for CAFF (housing subsidies) than to get an apartment by yourself. University housing is difficuult and not many people get it.

In terms of expenses, this will be very expensive though not backbreakingly so, it can be dealt with via good planning, and being a general stinge. Especially if you want to travel afterwards (which you should - when Australians go to Europe they have to make the most of it because of the distance and flight prices), you really have to watch what you spend. Don't know much about budgeting (which is probably why I spent so much).

Top Tips:

  • Eat at the University (subsidized food which is pretty decent), or at Restos U (not sure if thats how you spell it) which is next to Mabillon Metro.
  • Pre-Drink - alcohol is a lot cheaper than in Australia if you buy it from the supermarket. Not just wine but also spirits. But drinking out is really expensive.
  • Get the set menu if you eat out, good places are Relais Gascon in Montmartre (get a giant salad - don't worry it's full of meat), also Chinatown near Belleville is quite cheap and fun.
  • Get a Navigo Pass, (similar to a Go Card) it's probably cheaper in the long-run and you can use the Velib (bikes) to ride around the city which is really fun.
  • Go to concerts, bands are reasonably cheap over here (depends which band) and they're always touring, alot of the other international students and french people will also be interested in going so you can make a big event out of it.

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