Julia - Université Lumière Lyon 2

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2019
I didn't know how strong and independent I truly am before this experience. I learnt so much that I will take with me forever.

Academic experience

All bar one of my courses I studied abroad were taught and tested in French. I used my elective units and French major as equivalent for my UQ study load. Therefore although I studied history and other courses not related to my politics major, as they were taught in French it helped improve my language proficiency. It was quite difficult to find these courses, there is no big list to choose from but through going online to individual faculty websites I managed to find some courses I was interested in. Additionally, the introductory seminar for international students presented us with some courses designed specifically for us, and I was able to choose a couple of those. So be prepared to have your study plan changed once you actually arrive at the university. To sign up to courses you have to fill in a form, a single sheet of paper, and to enrol in a course you get the teacher to sign your form. This then gets handed into the office for international students to be confirmed. 

One of my favourite courses I completed was an "Ateliers de Conversation en Anglais" or an "English workshop". For nearly two hours, two times a week I sat with students learning English of various proficiency levels. I guided conversation and activities, answered questions and made a friend through the process. 

I feel that the academic system is structured very differently to UQ, to me it more closely resembled high school. Not a lot of technology is used and classes are not recorded. I also discovered that teachers may not upload lecture slides until a day or two before the final exam. One of the biggest difficulties for me in this area was not only that everything was in French, but more so that assessment tasks were so vague. There are rarely set instructions other than what a teacher may communicate verbally in class. You simply learn to give it your best shot and hope for the best. I also found that there are also less assessment tasks, depending on your course, and for some you may just have one final exam. Do not be afraid to ask the teachers as many questions necessary but be prepared their answer may not be what you want, or they may not know.

Personal experience

The cultural differences between France and Australia made it difficult to make local friends, but I did make some great international friends. I got to explore much of the surrounding countryside, there are so many great day trips to be had from Lyon (Dijon, Annecy, Perouges, Geneva etc.). Personally I learnt to be really adaptable to new situations, and going with the flow a bit more. I grew so much through this experience, I am more confident, I have a thicker skin and I'm not afraid to pursue what I want. This experience was not always easy, but since being back in Australia I can see how much this exchange has helped my develop as an adult.


Like most international students in France accomodation was left to me to find. I was given the option of a CROUS residence, which is the only university residence available. But after reading some poor online reviews of the seriously lacking amenities (hence the low price), I prioritised finding somewhere else. After a mountain of research I ended up staying in a student residence by Cardinal Campus called Bakara. I had a self-contained apartment of roughly 19 square metres with an en-suite and kitchenette that had a bar fridge and two-burner hot plates. It was a secure residence and it became my haven for the 6 months I lived there. 

It cost roughly 500 euros per month but I feel it was worth every cent. Talking to other exchange students I was grateful for my own safe, clean and private space. There were only two downsides to this residence. First, culturally the French are very private and keep to themselves so I didn't make friends through my accomodation. Secondly, I had to pay electricity on top of my rent. I had to organise this myself, however it was easy to set up and cancel, and did not end up costing that much in the end. 

I truly enjoyed my stay at my residence and would recommend it to other future residence. It had a supermarket, pharmacy and bakery within walking distance (ie. 5 minutes), as well as public transport stops.


I prioritised my accomodation when I first budgeted my stay, I had stayed on campus at UQ and was looking for my own space. I therefore budgeted 550 euros per month for accomodation (including electricity). For food I ended up sending roughly 300 euros per month. This was not just grocery items, but also when I ate out occasionally. Transport was a standard 32 euros per month for a student card to use all public transport in Lyon. When you arrive and have your local student card you purchase a TCL card and each month recharge for 32 euros. 
I budgeted roughly 30 euros per month on my phone plan. In the end I wish I had gone with a cheaper provider, I was with Orange, somewhat similar to a Telstra prepaid plan. I had heaps of data and unlimited local calls and texts.

Finally I labelled all other expenses as "miscellaneous" when I budgeted. This included entertainment, travel etcetera. 
UQ recommends you budget $1200 to $1500 AUD for the entire exchange. Depending on your priorities and how much you want to travel this will either be enough, or as I strongly recommend, you should have more if you can. A lot of necessary purchases like Visa, flights, insurance, will all cost more money than you expect. Not to mention the exchange rates can damage this healthy sum.


The biggest challenge for me was the loneliness I felt at times. I got homesick, I was totally alone in a foreign country, no one to go around and have a chat with, no friends for the first couple of months. I also felt I didn't have much academic support. But I was able to talk to my family regularly, I learnt to be more okay on my own and I made friends when I least expected it. It was just another instance of learning more about myself and pushing through because my exchange was something I had been looking forward to for so long.

Professional Development

I think I have already mentioned this in my other responses. But really it was my confidence in speaking to strangers or people of authority grew more, as well as my own self-confidence in my abilities. My language skills and intercultural communications skills improved too.


Definitely the day trips I did both by myself and with friends. Travelling solo is so invigorating. Travelling with friends is equally as much fun. The memories I have from these short trips, packed with some incredible moments, are the best thing I will take from this experience.

Top tips

The best advice I could could give regarding this university is to be prepared that no one else will be prepared. Your study plan is going to go out the window as soon as you arrive. Everything is going to be different and foreign, and at times really unclear. But the thing you really need to remember is you are capable, everyone else is in the same boat or has been before, and you will make it to the other end.