Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year
Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year

Academic experiences

Courses: French language, Spanish Language, Mediterranean Cities, States and Societies of the Arab World, Wars of Memories: Perpetual enmity between East and West.
I was able to take a greater number of courses during my semester at Sciences Po Menton, however I found the courses at my host university were not as deep as the courses I had taken at UQ.
One of the main reasons I chose the campus of Menton was the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern focus, which lived up to my expectations.
The campus is quite young (10 years) and therefore still small (around 300 students, 40 exchange students) and has plans to introduce a dedicated exchange track in the next year or two.
I believe this will enhance the exchange experience by tailoring course content to those coming with limited previous knowledge on the focus regions.

Beach at Villefranche

Personal experiences

The exchange semester gave me the opportunity to form friendships with like-minded students from around the world.
Together we travelled along the Cote d'Azur, Monaco, and into Italy and beyond.
Any exchange in Europe and the UK provides access to a great amount of different countries and cultures.
I was also able to improve my French and Spanish, and got a taste of Italian.
Being a little older than most of the students I studied with (28yrs old), having completed previous exchange programs and other life experiences, I can say with confidence that there is always more to learn and more space to grow.

Dinner at Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Accommodation

I lived alone in a little apartment off-campus.
Personally, having lived alone and independently for a number of years previously, I appreciated the cleanliness and quiet of my own space.
However, I have seen the experiences and friendships formed between the students who shared living space and I believe it has many benefits, despite the occasional chaos.
If I were to give advice to future students about housing, I would say that it depends on your personality as to which type of accommodation you should choose.
However, there are pros and cons to any type of living situation and you can embrace and make the most of whichever situation you find yourself in.

Menton

Budget

Budgeting really depends on your accommodation, how much you go out and how much you want to travel.
I can only give an idea of my experience.
The South of France is one of the more expensive places to live in France, although it seems to be a bit cheaper than Paris.
Living alone in a one bedroom apartment I paid 500 euros and spent around 200 euros (sometimes more, sometimes less) on groceries per month.
I would budget around AU$10 000 for the semester. I also recommend looking for student or youth discounts for travel and entertainment.
With a bit of research and planning ahead, it's easy to find cheap adventures close to home base in Menton.

Academic development and employability

The personal growth gained from the challenges and experiences of study abroad are a strong addition to any CV.
On top of that, Sciences Po has an international reputation for excellence in my field of study which will no doubt help me in my career.

View of Menton from Italy

Highlight

All travel shared with my new-found friends were highlights, in particular a hiking trip to Cinque Terre in Italy.
But what I hadn't anticipated was how much I valued travelling alone.
I found it liberating and exhilarating and I was surprised to learn so much more about myself.

View from campus

Top tips

Planning is valuable and can certainly save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
But it's important to realise that there are many things for which you cannot plan.
In these moments attitude is everything, so make sure you go with a positive one.
When something doesn't go to plan, remember that sometimes you need to go with the flow and look for the lesson.
If you're really stuck, ask for help!
There are always friends, other exchange students, and university staff who will be able to help you.
Also, if you honestly want to learn or improve language skills in a different language, you must make it happen.
Try to make friends with native speakers and practice, practice, practice.
There is a strong tendency for exchange students to gravitate towards each other and speak English. While there is nothing wrong with that, it will inhibit your opportunities to practice your target language.
So make sure you have plenty of other opportunities to practice and encourage other exchange students to practice with you.

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