Izzy - Sciences Po

B Business Management / B Laws
Semester 1, 2023
I now have a global network of friends who share the same love for travel and adventure.


I wanted to participate in an exchange because I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to experience another culture. I wanted to achieve a greater understanding of the French culture, history and language. Furthermore, I knew there would be many future benefits when it comes to employment and life after University.

Personal Development

When I think back on my exchange, I can confidently say that it was a life changing trip. I personally benefited tremendously from my time spent abroad in a variety of ways, from friendships and cultural exploration to language learning and personal development. First and foremost, my exchange experience has forever changed me because of the friendships I made there. My viewpoint and depth of understanding of many cultures have increased as a result of interacting with people from various backgrounds, exchanging experiences, and forming important connections.  Another highlight of my exchange experience was traveling and exploring new places. I was able to learn about different environments, historical landmarks, and regional customs by immersing myself in them. One of the most important parts of my exchange experience was improving my French. My ability to communicate in a foreign language on both a daily basis and during my university courses was put to the test. I got more confident in my ability to communicate successfully as my proficiency grew over time. Finally, my exchange experience encouraged a great deal of personal development. I learned resiliency, flexibility, and self-reliance from living alone in a new country. I gained the ability to overcome obstacles and push through. I now feel that I am better able to accept change and uncertainty as a result of this experience. Overall, this exchange experience has truly broadened my horizons. I've become more open-minded and resilient. Additionally, it has sparked a lifelong curiosity in me to learn more about other cultures, languages, and viewpoints.

Academic Development

This experience impacted me academically by giving me an opportunity to immerse myself in a complete different academic system and environment with different teaching methods and assessment. I feel that this enriched my learning experience by broadening my knowledge and challenging my views and assumptions. What I enjoyed most about a different academic system and academic environment was the exposure to new viewpoints and perspectives as well as very different teaching methods. Being in a foreign university allowed to me learn from professors and students who approached topics in various ways. This inspired me to think critically and creatively. Compared to my home university’s more lectured based teaching style, I enjoyed the fact all my subjects were seminar-based styles with a big focus on group discussion. Some of the challenges included learning to access academic and research material in a completely different university system. Additionally, a big challenge was adapting to a very different assessment methods and marking system. I initially struggled with understanding specific requirements of assignments, especially for the law courses which I had chosen to study in French. I overcame this challenge by actively seeking guidance from professors and speaking to other students. In terms of workload, I studied 6 subjects which was the equivalent of 4 UQ subjects. However, for each subject I only had one two-hour class per week. Nonetheless, because I studied more subjects I did still have a lot more assessment than I was maybe used to.

Professional Development

One of the most important skills I have developed is adaptability. After moving to a foreign country and immersing myself in a new cultural and academic environment meant I had to quickly adapt to new settings and overcome a variety of obstacles. I learned to be more adaptable and open-minded as a result of overcoming cultural differences, different educational systems and other challenges. These qualities will be extremely useful in the professional world where the capacity to adapt to change and perform well in a variety of circumstances is essential. Another important skill I have gained is improving my communication and interpersonal skills, especially my inter-cultural skills. Interacting with individuals from various origins has taught me to embrace cultural diversity and develop a more global perspective. This will be crucial in my future work environment where I will be working in diverse teams.  At first it was challenging to adjust to a new academic system and different teaching methods. In particular, I found that the assessment did not have very specific guidelines and the approach to assessment was very different to what I was used to. I took the initiative to ask teachers for advice, use university resources, and get help from other students to overcome these obstacles. This experience has given me the tenacity to look for solutions even in unexpected situations and a proactive attitude to problem-solving.


I set up a budget before moving. I spent 1000 euros per month renting a big room in the 6th arrondissement in Paris. I budgeted 100 euros per week for groceries, 50 euros per week for going out to eat and 20 euros per week for personal care. I paid for a Navigo card which was 85 euros per month and gave me unlimited transport. I would say I spent around 15k AUD excluding travel and shopping. I would recommend saving up 20k.


It was beneficial to have the $2000 funding about halfway through my experience. This funded some activities and travel plans.


I initially booked my flight tickets 2 weeks before orientation week and was planning on getting an Airbnb for those 2 weeks and looking for accommodation when I arrived in Paris. But I was lucky enough to find an available room to rent through the Sciences Po Housing portal – highly recommend. So in the end, I chose to rent a room in a French lady's apartment. My living arrangements involved sharing common areas such as the kitchen and bathroom while having my private bedroom. Living with a French person was useful especially when I first arrived as she gave me a tour of the nearby supermarkets, and told me how it worked to get started with public transport. It also meant I could practice the language with her and if I ever needed tips on where to find something in Paris I had a local I could ask. There were several pros to this accommodation arrangement. Firstly, I had a local who could offer guidance and advice about living and getting around the city. Additionally, sharing an apartment allowed for a more immersive cultural experience, as I had the chance to engage in conversations and learn firsthand about local traditions. Moreover, the cost of this accommodation option was often more affordable compared to renting an entire studio In terms of cons, I had to ask permission before I could invite someone over (so I didn’t do that very often at all) and if someone wanted to stay the night it cost an extra 35e/night. I would definitely advise to look at your university’s housing portal as a first point. Secondly, I highly recommend living a walking distance from your uni. I lived a 20 min walk away and it was so practical and I found that most of the friends I made also lived in the same arrondissement as me so it worked out well being so close to my friends and the uni. I also would advise to start your search as early as possible.


My three highlights of my experience were friendships, exploring my new city and the travel I did within Europe. I will forever treasure the friendships I formed during my exchange and meeting people from all around the world.  I now have a global network of friends who share the same love for travel and adventure. My second highlight was exploring my new city and immersing myself in a completely new culture with a new way of life. I really enjoyed trying new activities all over Paris, different cuisine and participating in different cultural events. Lastly, I was able to do so much travel with my friends which was honestly an amazing experience. Each of these highlights have contributed to my unforgettable experience so far and shaped me as the person I am today.

Advice/Top Tips

For students considering participating in a university exchange experience in the future, I would offer the following advice and top tips based on my own experience:

  1. Research and plan ahead: research your city, accommodation, university all before moving abroad. Look into the student clubs and societies and any sport classes you can join – it’s a great way to make friends.
  2. Embrace the unfamiliar: Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and become more open-minded. Embrace challenges (which you certainly will have) as opportunities for growth and learning.
  3. Reach out to any connections: contact people or friends you know who have done an exchange already (particularly those who visited your country/city or university) and ask for any tips or advice they may have.
  4. Get involved and immerse yourself in local culture: make an effort to engage with the local culture and community. Learn the basics of the language, try local cuisine and participate in uni activities and events.
  5. Travel: make the absolute most of this opportunity to travel and explore. I purposefully set all my classes from Monday to Wednesday so that I could travel Thursday to Monday easily.