Bachelor of Arts/Laws
Bachelor of Arts/Laws

Academic experiences

I studied five courses - one lecture course, and four electives - two in French and three in English. For two of these, international lawyers were actually the teachers.
I thoroughly enjoyed my wine class, everyone was very friendly and I learnt a great deal about French culture regarding wine. I would recommend that if possible, definitely take a "Civilization" course.
Also, if you do have a class in French, you will have to become quite familiar with their particular format for essays. Most of us spent the first couple of weeks trying to wrap our heads around the concepts of the problematique and the paradox, we were always asked for.
There is an incredibly strict attendance policy. If you miss three classes, you automatically default on that course, and will have to justify your absences to the University. This proves to be a particularly stressful part of studying here, particularly if you get stuck with 8 am classes.
Usually every class also involves the giving of an exposé (a speech of about 10-15 mins) or debate. Work out when other assessment is due and in the first week, try and make sure you can do these when you have less written work due, as a lot of the assessment tends to end up being due at the very end of the semester leading to an incredibly stressful month or so.

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Personal experiences

What I enjoyed and will miss the most was all of the amazing people I met from all around the World (who can expect to be couch-surfing hosts in the near future too). Sciences Po and Paris is such a big and cosmopolitan city, so you get the chance to meet so many different people from all over.

Also, the ability to travel for three hours and be in a different country! (A stark contrast to Australia). This was taken advantage of and had some lovely trips to Croatia, England, and even Germany for Oktoberfest.
I also managed to improve my French competency to being practically fluent!
But there's also a lot to be said for just the amazing experience of living daily life in Paris. It was also especially interesting when I was leaving as the Charlie Hebdo shootings had just occurred and I lived near the centre of where demonstrations were occurring.

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Accommodation

There is no official on-campus accommodation with Sciences Po.
If you're lucky it's possible to get a month long stay at Cité Universitaire which is a large residential college situation on the edge of Paris, I've heard good things.
Unfortunately, places are limited and it seems to cater predominately to Masters Students.
As such, almost everyone I knew lived off-campus. Finding a place in Paris is tough, and the Internet is rife with scams so be discerning, and if it's too good to be true then it probably is.
The university provides some limited help via their website, which provides a list of landlords that Sciences Po students have dealt with in the past. Be careful of Facebook especially, while I did have friends who found their place on FB, I had another friend who got scammed through FB, and the vast majority I found were clearly scams.
However, coming to Paris you face some major obstacles, many landlords will require that you have French guarantors, and many of them are unwilling to rent to someone who will only be renting for a semester.
Also. Space is at a premium in Paris, and therefore, rent is expensive. One benefit is that often all bills are included. You are unlikely to find anything decent for cheaper than 550 EUR/month, this was my rent, but all of my friends paid more. To try to get more bang for your buck, go further out on the edges of Paris.
The two ideal ways to find somewhere to live is either to pay an agency to set you up with a place, or to find one yourself online. There are numerous sites such as leboncoin, PAP, and Appartager, which were really useful.
I ended up finding a landlord with a room to rent in his apartment on Appartager. We signed a contract, which I found online, for a duration of five months. Things were largely amicable, although we did have one small issue turn into quite an ordeal about lights being left on, and he threatened me with eviction a few times when grumpy. I would try to avoid situations where you are in close contact with your landlord here as they seem to have a poor understanding of the law and boundaries involved in renting. For instance, a friend of mine had her landlord enter the apartment to borrow her iron, without once letting her know.
Also, know your rights and do some research, it's worth knowing your rights under the French law, for instance, you cannot legally be evicted during the winter period even if rent goes unpaid. This is why you should definitely make sure you have a signed contract for your rental.
I stayed nearby République metro station, which was very convenient to get throughout Paris. It's also quite a hip area, with tonnes of great bars, cafés, and the gorgeous Canal St Martin for picnics and people watching. You'll also see many maniféstations going on at Place de la République, as the French do love to strike/protest.
I would definitely recommend this area as it takes 30 mins to get to class from home, it's close to a lot of the bars and clubs, and it's a really pretty area.
Personally I recommend: Holybelly, Le Cambodge, Ten Belles, Coutume Cafe, La Pointe du Groin, and Comptoir General.
As mentioned, I paid 550 EUR/month for my room, however did not have a fridge or washing machine included. Although there are tonnes of laundromats, and not having a fridge was a good excuse to eat out.

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Budget

Get a French mailing address ASAP.
Sciences Po will allow you to use them in the meantime, but once you have an address you can start organising a lot of different things, like opening a French bank account, and getting your public transport card.
Rent:
Can vary wildly and depends on what kind of place you want, with people spending from 500 EUR to 900 EUR per month, however bills are almost always included in this.
Food:
Try to avoid eating any meals around Sciences Po other than a sandwich as the restaurants are quite pricey here. But a good baguette crudités poulet (chicken and salad baguette) is your friend coming in at around 4.50 EUR. I generally spend anywhere between 10 and 20 EUR in a day on meals. However, this is not including any splurging (which you'll want to do in Paris)
Drinks:
Drinks are surprisingly about the same price as back in Australia if you go out, although they are much more liberal with the quantity poured. Still better off to pre-drink a bit if you're going out, in fact, most French people do so out in public along the banks of the Seine or the Canals, especially during Summer.
Transport:
You can pay 40 EUR/month for a student public transport card (ImagineR) which gives you unlimited travel in zones 1 and 2 (All of Paris, and the adjacent suburbs), and unlimited travel in Ile-De-France on weekends.
However, apply as soon as possible, because you must post your application and it will then be sent to your address, and this often takes 3 weeks to a month.
There is also the Vélib bike-sharing scheme which has been invaluable and meant a lot of saved money on cabs from a late night out. There are even times where riding to your destination will be faster than relying on public transport. If you send a copy of your student ID, it only costs 29 EUR for a year subscription.
Entertainment:
Many movies are shown in VO (Version Original) meaning they'll be in English, so you can go see a movie. I recommend Etoile cinemas who have 5 EUR tickets. A lot of the museums are also free to students. `
Travel:
I would recommend using the train to get around, get a Carte Jeune for 50 EUR and you'll save a tonne.
Obviously the earlier you book, the cheaper it'll be.
Also, EasyJet and Ryanair are your friend...maybe, just be careful, you save a lot, but a budget carrier can always have issues.
Coaches can also be a good option to save some money if you don't mind long trips (i.e. megabus)
Eastern Europe is recommended to travel to, as it is cheaper than a lot of Europe and quite beautiful, especially Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia.

Academic development and employability

I actually was employed while in France, which is allowed on the Student Visa you’ll most likely be going on. I worked for some babysitting agencies teaching English and looking after kids for a couple of hours a week. If you budgeted poorly like me, this is a good idea.
An exchange can be difficult, but being thrown into a different culture, with a language barrier, and most of the people you know a world away, actually makes you do a lot of growing and developing.
I feel as though I’ve become a more mature and assertive person. You learn to be adaptable and make things work, even if things weren’t going right in the first place.
Sciences Po was incredibly engaging, and the French are renowned for having an opinion on everything. Some of the class discussions were brilliant and I really got a chance to develop my critical thinking skills further.

Highlight

I don’t think I can pinpoint one highlight of the trip. When I look back on the experience, it was the little moments every day: picking up your baguette from the nearby store, getting stuck in the middle of a manifestation, drinking by the Canal St Martin with your friends, and wandering through the streets of Paris.

Top tips

Without a doubt, everyone should do a UQ Abroad exchange. It’s the experience of a lifetime and you will be better for having done it!

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