Jenna - ESSEC Business School

B. Business Management
Semester 2, 2014

Academic experience

Some of the reasons I chose ESSEC were due to its reputation (currently ranked #2 of business schools in Europe), the courses that were offered by the university and the world-renowned lecturers, and the campus’ proximity to Paris.

The university has a good number of courses available for international students, however, you really have to plan well which subjects you want to do, and then have back up options for all of your subjects. The university limits their class sizes of their lectures, and so in most of my subjects I had 20-30 students per lecture. So obviously some classes will fill up quite quickly, and it is important you get extra courses approved by UQ before you go to remove any stress after arrival. In terms of the workload, the lectures are 3 hours long (which is definitely hard to get used to), but overall I found the work to be quite easy and manageable, as the majority of my grades were based on participation in class and group work. I would definitely recommend a course called “French Civilisation”. It is only available for international students and it is basically just a subject to learn about French culture – including a 3-hour ‘lecture’ on cheese and wine tasting. 

Personal experience

Standing outside De Louvre
Standing outside De Louvre

You do not need to speak French to survive on exchange at ESSEC, as you will spend the majority of your time with other international students who all speak English. However I would definitely recommend immersing yourself in the culture and language as much as possible; take a French language class at uni, go to the student clubs events, and as much as possible try to speak French when you can, it is all part of the experience of going on exchange to a non-anglophone country. I made friends with people all over the world, and have places to stay and people to visit on almost every continent, including Australia. I also became friends with some of the local French students, which was definitely handy as they know everything about where to go and what to do in Paris, and in Europe in general, and they are always there to help you with administrative/language barrier issues. I travelled for about 6 weeks before starting my semester, and I would definitely recommend doing the same. I was able to travel to some amazing places, and then find some places I wanted to re-visit during my exchange, and also some new places to add to the list. Almost every weekend I was travelling as I managed to get a pretty good timetable, even if it was just little getaways with some friends to little towns in France, it is so easy to travel around Europe via their train network, and you can get some really cheap plane tickets too


In terms of money, Paris is quite an expensive city to live in. I stayed at one of the uni’s residences and I would definitely recommend doing the same. Whilst the campus isn’t in the centre of Paris, the price of renting an apartment and doing your grocery shopping in Paris is really excessive. And staying at one of the residences means you get to be surrounded by international students and French students from ESSEC every day, and parties in the common rooms every night


In terms of budgeting, make sure you put aside some money on top of rent/living expenses for travelling. France is a country full of amazing weekend adventures, and there are so many things to see in Europe. UQ's estimate of 5000 euros per semester would be enough to cover living expenses, rent, and some extra travelling. Though I would probably aim to save more than that. I put enough money aside to make sure that I would have no regrets and wouldn’t have to say no to anything, and I’m so glad I took that approach, because I was able to travel around a lot with my new international friends, and go to some truly amazing places.

Professional development and employability

Going on an exchange was definitely the highlight of my degree, and it opened my eyes to a whole world of opportunities. I have made friends and networks all over the world, and I believe that in Business it is essential to have some sort of international experience when looking for work.


My semester abroad was honestly one of the best things I have ever done in my life, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to gain some international experience. There was not one thing I didn't enjoy during my time overseas. But I would have to say that the highlights were all of the travelling around Europe I managed to do, and all of the friends I have made from all over the world

Top tips

I would 100% recommend doing a semester abroad

Try to go to as many events and parties as you can, especially when you first arrive. You will feel much more comfortable after meeting all of the other international exchange students, and you will start forming friendships for life

Jenna - ESSEC Business School