Lucy - National Superior School of Commercial Sciences of Angers

B Business Management/Commerce
Semester 2, 2018
Incredible experience that I will cherish forever.

Academic experience

I studied Wine Marketing, European History and Politics, Intercultural Dynamics and French language classes. 

I found Wine Marketing to be a very easy subject, the assessment consisted of three group presentations that were completed during class, and next to no additional work required out of class time. It also included an excursion to a vineyard and a 3 hour 'tasting and analysis' of wine during one of the classes. 

European History and Politics is a great subject that focuses on the political side of the war from the views of France, Germany and Britain. I found it very interesting, however challenging to keep up as I did not have a lot of prior knowledge about the politics of the WW2. This course also included an excursion to the Normandy Landing Beaches, this was a highlight of my trip as the professor gave us alternative ways to think about everything. I definitely recommend this course if you're interested in history and want to learn about WW2 from a new perspective. 

Intercultural Dynamics was my favourite subject, it discusses cultural differences and explores new ways to accept people of other cultures. 

Beginners French language classes were good and consisted of 3 exams held in class time. 

I did not find the academic system at ESSCA to be extremely organised, with on occasion assessment being handed out 4 days prior to the due date and no proper criteria sheets available. There were minimal online resources, and none of the lecture slides were posted online, therefore if you missed a class it was easy to fall behind. Despite that, I found the classes that I chose to be relatively easy so it was not an issue to miss one class. The classes are held in three hour blocks, with tutorials and lectures merged into one informal class. It is a small university so there is no need for class signon, there is only one class for each subject.

Personal experience

My semester abroad was everything I had hoped it would be, I made lifelong friends and grew so much as a person. I found that being away from my family and friends was the hardest part of the trip, however after coming home now I miss my exchange friends just as much and have already planned overseas trips to visit them. 

Being in a country that does not speak the same language was a huge challenge and I was extremely nervous to try and use my rusty high school French in conversation. However, I found the french people to be extremely understanding and very grateful for my effort. Generally I found most of the French people were quite good at English and they usually offered to speak English.

Living in Europe I was able to do lots of travelling to other European countries such as; Germany for Octoberfest, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Ireland, Wales, Monaco as well as a road trip through the south of France. Additionally, I was lucky enough to find cheap 40 euro return flights to Morocco while I was there. The closest airport to Angers is in Nantes, which you can get to by a train and then a shuttle bus.

Accommodation

There are a number of student residences available. I would highly recommend living in the area Saint Serge, in either 'Fac habitat' or 'La Maine'. These residences are walking distance to the town and a 20 minute bus ride to university. ESSCA is located in Belle Beille which is not in the town centre. Therefore if you live near the university and want to go to bars at night, the buses stop running around midnight so you will need to pay for a cab home which costs around 20 euros. I stayed in Fac Habitat in a studio apartment, it was very clean and I would highly recommend. La Maine was undergoing renovations when I left so I would recommend here also, due to the location and the great new facilities including a gym. Most of the student residences have basic gym equipment. I recommend applying for a student residence as soon as possible as there are lots of universities in Angers and there is lots of competition for the student residences.

Costs

Rent at Fac Habitat Student Residence was around 450 Euros per month. If shopping at Lidl I spent around 20/30 euros on food per week. I highly recommend shopping at Lidl for meat as it is more than half the price of the other supermarkets. Drinks at bars were quite expensive, and in certain clubs could be up to 13 euros for one drink. When considering traveling to different countries by plane, make sure to add an extra 20 euros to the flight price as you need to get a train or a bus to Paris or Nantes as there is no airport in Angers. I believe Flixbus is around 9 euros to Paris and there are always discount coupons available at ESSCA. Including the OS-Help loan I spent around $17,000 for the entire trip, including all of my travelling.

Challenge

When I was in France my phone was stolen, this was extremely hard for me as I had minimal contact to everyone unless I had my laptop and wifi. I had to go to the police to file a report, however due to my limited French ability I had to take a someone to translate for me. I was able to take a French friend I had made and borrow a phone of theirs until my mum sent me over an old phone. Despite being extremely frustrated, my new friends helped me through it and it was extremely reassuring that the friends I had made on exchange were able to help me out so much after knowing each other for only a couple months at this point.

Professional Development

I believe I have developed more independence and confidence. I learnt that making mistakes is okay and how to solve issues on my own, without the reassurance of family close by. Learning to communicate with people when we did not speak the same language was hard but fun. French culture is extremely different to Australian culture, and along with interacting with many international students I believe I gained a better understanding and greater acceptance of people from different cultures.

Highlight

French people pride themselves on quality food and the restaurants definitely lived up to my high expectations. I would definitely say eating a traditional French meal of Raclette was a top highlight, we got given a whole cheese wheel to the table and were able to scrape the melted cheese straight onto our plate. Yum!

Top tips

I definitely recommend that you stay in a student residence in Saint Serge, this is where most of the exchange students lived, and it is also a lot easier and cheaper if you like to go to bars/nightclubs at night. There are also markets every Saturday morning a short walk from Saint Serge with fresh fruit, veggies and other food. 

The university's welcome team is amazing and will help you set up a sim card, bus pass and everything else you will need. They picked me up from the train station and dropped me at my student residence on the day I arrived which was an amazing help. 

If you want to go into a club make sure that the person at the front of the line can speak French because if you don't speak French they won't let you in. (French bouncers are brutal)

If you plan on doing lots of travel within France I recommend purchasing a 'carte de jeune' its a French youth travel card which gives you discount on train tickets, you can buy this at the train station. If you don't mind long bus rides however, they are usually still cheaper than the carte de jeune train prices. 

If you are going during the August - December semester there is a winter gala, so if you don't want to buy an expensive outfit over there I recommend taking something nice to wear with you. Suits for boys and nice dresses for girls. 

If you are wanting to connect with local people and are doing your undergraduate studies I would recommend going to ESSCA in the august – December semester, as the third year French students go on a compulsory exchange in the January-May semester, so there will not be many French students at ESSCA during this time.