Lilian - Sciences Po

B Business Management/Arts
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

Sciences Po is in a wonderful and affluent area of Paris! Just down the road there are historical cafes like Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots, where Hemingway and Picasso would frequent! Sciences Po itself it a very prestigious university, and I’m so grateful I was able to experience university life there. While at Sciences Po I studied four International Relations courses; 
• Varieties of Regulatory Capitalism
• Strategic Studies
• War Peace and the Sovereign State 
• Global Europe
I found the workload to be more intense than UQ. Classes rely heavily on the readings, without the readings it was often difficult to follow what was going on in class. The coursework was also very different to UQ. The assessments are quite vague, I wasn’t given any form of criteria sheet/marking rubric for any of my classes. Although challenging, it really pushed me academically and I think I’m better for it. Class attendance was also required, if you missed more than two classes you failed the course. At first this was daunting, but I definitely think I got more out the of the classes because I actually went every week. 

I’d recommend doing the Welcome Program. It was a great way to make friends and ease your way into life at Sciences Po.

Personal experience

I had a really amazing time in Paris. It was an unreal experience to wake up everyday in such an amazing city. I was able to make lifelong friendships with people from all across the world which something I’ll cherish forever. 

I was lucky enough to only have three days of classes a week which left plenty of time to explore Paris and Europe on the weekends. There is so much to do in the city, I’m very grateful I was able to be there for so long to really take everything in. I loved being able to wander down streets without a purpose, simply just to explore and see what I could find. While I was there I did a few Airbnb walking tours to learn more about the city’s history. My favourite was one about the ‘drinkers and thinkers of the left bank’ which focused on the areas around Sciences Po, I’d definitely recommend doing some research and booking some of these tours. 

Paris is a great transport hub for Europe. With only a three day week, I was able to squeeze in quite a few weekend trips around Europe. I also stayed in Europe for an extra month after my semester finished. I’d recommend planning on giving yourself a few weeks to explore Europe before coming home. 

If you want to improve your french, I don’t think Paris is the best place to go. I improved my comprehension and speaking a bit, but I’m sure if I was in a more rural area of France my french would be much better.

Accommodation

Unfortunately Sciences Po doesn’t offer any on-campus accommodation for students. There aren’t really any options for student accommodation like college or halls of residents so a lot of students end up organising an Airbnb for the first few weeks and organise accommodation once they’re in Paris. The Sciences Po Facebook Page is a great place to find a room. Personally, leaving accommodation until I got to Paris made me feel a little uneasy, so I decided to go through the housing agency Comforts of Home. There is a link on the Sciences Po website to a Comforts of Home page specifically for Sciences Po students, which places you with other students also going to Sciences Po. 


I’d heard mixed reviews about Comforts of Home but I thought I’d give it a go anyway and I’m so glad I did. I figured knowing that accommodation would be sorted before I left and that I’d be with other students outweighed the risks. I chose the room-share option which worked out to be approx 800 euro a week, which is a pretty standard rent you’d expect to pay in Paris. 

Overall it was a really great experience!! I was placed with four girls; three from America and one from India. Two of the American girls also went to Sciences Po and we had classes together, and the other girls were students elsewhere. The apartment was large and bright, in the 14th Arrondissement right next to a metro station which went straight to Sciences Po.

Costs

Paris is an expensive city so budget as much as you can!! UQ suggests bringing somewhere between 15,000 - 20,000 AUD. It would be possible to study and live in Paris on the lower end of the scale however you would be very limited in terms of overseas study and experiences while you there. I’d definitely recommend aiming for the $20,000 end if you plan on doing extra travel. 
General Budget 
• Sticking to a budget is so important. Although it sounds tedious, I recorded everything I spent in a spreadsheet. Doing this really helped me keep on top of what I was spending and really helped me get the most out of my money. I ended up coming back with more than I expected but still got to do everything I wanted to do. 
Rent 
• 800 euro per month with Comforts of Home in a room-share with one person. Individual rooms are significantly more expensive. Room-sharing isn’t as bad as it sounds. 
• As a general rule, 600 - 1000 euro per month was the norm. Anything more than that it probably too much. 
Phone 
• I went with Free Mobile and paid 20 euro a month. This got me 100 gig and unlimited texts and calls in France, and 25 gig in other European countries. I didn’t have any problems with them. You can get the sim card from a machine in store which only took about 2 mins. 
Food 
• I budgeted 75 euro a week for groceries, which was plenty. I don’t recall ever going over budget. I budgeted another 50 euro a week for eating out. It’s easy to spend a fair bit on eating out; a meal at a cafe costs between 15 - 20 euro. Luckily, there are a few cafes near Sciences Po, such as Basile, that sell huge baguettes for about 4 euros. I’d often get a crepe after class which only set me back 3.50 euro. 
Transport 
• 75 euro per month. The Navigo card was the best option for someone staying for a few months. You pay at the start of each month and it gives you unlimited access to the metro and RER. There are even a few places like Chantilly and Versailles which are quite far from the Paris city centre that the Navigo card will get you.

Challenge

My biggest challenge was finding the balance between uni and enjoying Paris/Europe. I found the coursework more challenging to what I was used to so I needed to put in more time and effort to do well, although I really didn’t want to spend everyday in the library and not get to enjoy the city. My time management skills had to develop very quickly so I could get everything handed in on time and pass, while also seeing everything I wanted to see.

Professional Development

My time at Sciences Po has definitely helped me improve my employability. I’m more confident, have better time management skills and overall am more willing to take risks. I think that the challenge of learning and living in a foreign country with a foreign language really helped me break out of my comfort zone.

Highlight

It’s so hard to think of one highlight from the whole abroad experience. I think simply being able to live in Paris was the best part for me. I loved being able to catch the metro, smelling the boulangerie near my apartment, my local crepe man, and just walking aimlessly around the streets of the city. I also loved the walking tours I did where I got to learn more about the city’s history.

Top tips

• Bring as much money has you can and budget well!
• Remember to really take in the city! It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of being in Europe and wanting to travel every weekend. Remember to spend time exploring Paris 
• If you get a Navigo Card - Keep a photo of you on it! I got fined 50 euro for not having this. 
• Plan a few weeks at the end of your exchange to do more travel around Europe