Cailey - Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Rennes

B Business Management/Arts
Semester 1, 2019

Academic experience

I did the English Program which consisted of 7 compulsory English courses, one semester long French language course and one course taught in French. The English courses were set, so I didn't have to do anything to enrol when I got to Rennes. Since I was in one of higher groups for French, I had to take a conference (kind of a like a tuorial) taught in French. The uni provides a list of conferences you can take a few weeks into the semester and then you choose from that. Overall, the English Program was fairly easy compared to UQ, partly because most of the courses only ran for two to four weeks. 

However, be aware that the courses taught in French function very differently to UQ. Conference days and times can change from week to week, and you need to be proactive about any assessment as the professor doesn't always tell you when things are due unless you ask. If possible make friends with the French students in your class, because they are really helpful if you get confused, or if your professor suddenly changes the class time (the professors don't usually send an email - there's just a student who is the class representative and lets everyone else know). However, as long as you are organised and proactive you should be fine!

Personal experience

Exchange was, without a doubt, one of the best times of my life. I met the most amazing people from all around the world and built lifelong friendships. It gave me such a great appreciation for different languages and cultures, both because of my friends and the places I travelled. Travelling in Europe is incredibly cheap and easy compared to Australia, and I was fortunate enough to visit Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Italy, and the Netherlands. These experiences reignited my love of travel, and taught me that it is actually much easier than I thought it was. Sometimes you just have to stop overthinking and planning, get up, and go. 

I also became more resilient and more confident in my ability to solve problems under pressure. I had to deal with things like speaking to the police in French, a challenge that helped improve my confidence in myself and the language, under a fairly stressful situation (my friend's phone being stolen). My French even improved in small ways through things like grocery shopping (trust me, for the first few weeks supermarket shopping was a nighmare of google translating everything I wanted to buy) but these little things really help improve your French vocabulary and soon you'll be reading menus like a pro.


I lived in Patton, one of the CROUS residences for students, which is a 20 minute walk away from Sciences Po. Sciences Po gives priority to students from far away countries for these student residences, so it is very likely that you will get a place. However, if you don't, the student association Zephyr helps international students to find accommodation and roommates (often people from the same exchange program). Keep in mind that when you arrive your room does not have sheets, pillows, blankets, or kitchen supplies. Zephyr gives out these things in the first week or two so if you can hang out for that you can get it for free. However, if you arrive early like I did and don't fancy sleeping without blankets in the middle of winter, Tati is a really cheap shop where you can get these things from. 

Living in student accommodation is a lot of fun - you get to meet people from all around the world who are living in the same corridor as you. My advice is to make friends early on! Don't be afraid to talk to that random person you keep running into in the kitchen, they're probably really cool (and if you don't speak that much French there's a good chance that they speak English).


Rent - 244€/month. 
Transport - 34€/monthly pass (bus and metro). 1.50 €/trip, but I found the monthly pass to be worth it because Patton is a 40 minute walk from the city, and 20 minutes from the uni, and always having to carry coins was incovenient.
Food - 3.25€ for a meal at uni. I spent about 30-50€/week on groceries. 
Entertainment - Alcohol is fairly cheap - you can get a bottle of wine for as little as 2€, but if you go out to bars it is a pretty similar price to Australia (4-10€ for a drink). 

Overall, I would recommend having about $1000 (approx 600€) a month. This left me plenty of money after paying my rent for food (especially if I wanted to eat out), entertainment, and travelling. Before you leave make sure you set aside money for admin - your visa alone can cost you $150 in Australia (+ flights to Sydney), + 60€ in France if you get a long stay visa. You also have to buy insurance once you're in France, and when you first arrive you will have to buy sheets, pillows, cutlery, etc. for your room. I would say set around $1000 aside for all these extra costs. 

The UQ estimate of $12 000 - $15 000 per semester was pretty accurate and was enough to cover living expenses, flights, admin costs and travelling.


The biggest challenge was getting really sick because I had to figure out the French health system, all while feeling terrible. Since I lived alone it was really a matter of just pushing through how awful I felt, and just doing what had to be done. Thankfully, I had good friends who had been in Rennes longer than I had who told me how to access the doctor (there's a website called Doctolib where you can find doctors - some of them even speak English).

Professional Development

My exchange made me more resilient and able to quickly solve problems - having to deal with the police in a foreign language showed me that I can have a level head even in stressful situations. I can apply this to any future jobs I have, being confident in the knowledge that I can deal with issues calmly. I also developed my ability to speak to all kinds of people, and being surrounded by people from other countries broadened my perspective to a more global outlook that I will carry into my career.


The people I met. I know it sounds like a cliche but it's absolutely true. On top of the amazing friends I made, I also got to meet a lot of really interesting people from all over the world. These people are with you through everything, and since Sciences Po is fairly small uni compared to UQ, everyone in the exchange program kind of knows everyone else. It makes for a really nice community!

Top tips


- Get a Carte Jeune for the trains as soon as possible. It costs 50 euros but you will almost definitely make that money back within the first few trips. 
- Flixbus is your friend. Especially if you book earlier you can get really cheap trips. It's especially good for travelling close to Rennes (Brest, Vannes, St Malo, Vitre).
- Book your visa appointment ASAP, before your documents from Sciences Po arrive. My documents only arrived at the beginning of December, and by then appointments were booked out for the next month. Sometimes there are cancellations, but it's better safe than sorry.
- Say yes!! You will never regret doing something, I swear. Even if it doesn't turn out the way you planned you might still learn something about yourself in the process.