Finnian - Sciences Po

B Economics/Arts 
Semester 1, 2019
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young person, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast - Hemingway

Academic experience

I really enjoyed the academic experience at Sciences Po, though it is a little different to UQ. For example, seminar courses focus a lot on student interaction and you will likely have to do 5-6 presentations over the course of a semester. I found the workload to actually be less than UQ, although that could have just been a fluke of the classes I was taking - some of my friends had much more work. I was told that Sciences Po mark you really hard, but I actually ended up getting pretty good grades (not that this affects your GPA). The point is, if you think that Sciences Po is going to be really hard, you don't have to! It is no harder than UQ in my experience. 

Course registration at Sciences Po is notoriously difficult, because all the courses available to exchange students become available at once and courses fill up in minutes. My advice is to be super prepared, know which courses are most important and go for them first, and have back up options in case you miss out on a course. Sciences Po tend to offer different courses in each semester, so there's a good chance that the study plan you submitted to UQ might be out of date. As soon as Sciences Po release the courses they will offer that semester, you should check it against your study plan and if necessary, re submit one to UQ - make sure you do this sooner rather than later, as UQ can be pretty slow! 

I took a French beginner language class at Sciences Po, which I would highly recommend - it's probably the class that I made the most friends in, is quite fun and obviously good for living in Paris!

Personal experience

I made lots of really good friends at Sciences Po, which was a real highlight. I would recommend doing the Welcome Programme - yes it is expensive but I made most of my closest friends through it, and it gave me a good base through which to meet other students etc. But if you are not doing the Programme, you don't really need it to figure out how to get by at Sciences Po. It basically consists of doing activities around Paris with students which is great, and some classes on Sciences Po methodology which is kinda boring and unnecessary. 

Paris is an absolute dream to live in, loads of great parks and museums to explore, and it is so beautiful! Parisians are super nice and not rude at all - don't believe the stereotypes! If like me, you don't speak any French (I have a little now), don't worry because Paris is easy to get by in with a few basic phrases and a little effort, most Parisians speak English. If you do speak French though, your experience will perhaps be a little fuller as you will be more able to make friends with French students (though all French students speak impeccable English - I still made friends with some).


I actually came to Paris with my girlfriend from Australia, and we organised our accomodation through exterior means, so I can't give too much advice here I'm afraid. Sciences Po offer basic cheap rooms to rent, not sure how competitive this are. There are also other agencies that provide accomodation for students, and you could look into homestays.


Paris is not a cheap city unfortunately. Rent will be your biggest expense, and can range from 600 euros a months for a pretty basic and small room, to 1200 a month for a small private apartment. Groceries are probably slightly more expensive than Australia, eating/going out is generally expensive (15 euros for dinner at a restaurant, 5 euros for a beer out), but cheap places definitely exist so seek them out. Cheaper lunches/fast food (crepes, falafel etc) are generally in the 6-8 euros range, but a simple baguette and cheese is really good and cheap. 

As for transport, you can buy monthly 'go card' equivalents but they cost 70 euros a month fixed, which really means you'd have to use public transport twice a day for it be worthwhile. Alternatively, a single trip on the metro/bus costs 1.50 euros. You could also sign up for 'Velib' which is the city bike-sharing scheme, I think its pretty cheap (3-8 euros a month) and you can ride the bikes for 30 minutes before they start charging you. 

Travel around Europe is generally expensive, buses are cheap, trains are not sadly, and flights can be both cheap or expensive depending on destination.


I was probably most worried about making friends prior to going on exchange, but everyone is in the same boat and eager to make friends, so I really think it is not an issue - although again I recommend the Welcome Programme for helping with this. I'm also an older student at UQ (26) so was a little worried about being the oldest dude in my classes, but it was totally fine and some of my closest friends were 18. If you are an older student at UQ and considering doing an exchange, I would say just do it!

Professional Development

Sciences Po has loads of extra-curricular activities which can be a great way to make friends, especially French friends. They also always have really interesting guest lecturers visiting the campus to give talks in both French and English - I attended a series of three lectures on climate change by experts and officials from all over the EU, it was really great. At the end of the day, Sciences Po is ranked 4th in the world for political sciences/international relations, so any time spent studying there is going to look great on your CV, as is living in a foreign country.


Highlights include making really good friends and exploring Paris, travelling around Europe and French patisseries!

Top tips

My advice is pretty simple - if you are considering going on an exchange and have the ability to do so, you should just do it! It will be one of the best experiences of your life.