Francisca - Université Catholique de Lille

B. Science / Arts
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

The French academic system is quite different to the Australian academic system. Firstly, during my semester at the Université Catholique de Lille, I was required to take 11 courses to get credit for 4 courses at the University of Queensland. However, although there were more contact hours at the French university, the hours I was required to put in for outside-study were less, so it balanced out.

As I was only taking courses for my French major in my Arts degree, there was a lot of flexibility. Basically, I could take any courses I wanted, as long as they were taught in French. Because of this, I was able to study a broad range of different subjects, from Writing a Blog, to Translation and even a Biology course! 

Also, regardless of whether you are studying in French or English, we were required to take a French language course. During your first week at the University, we took a placement test to determine our French language level and were assigned a class ranging from beginner (A1) to advanced (C1-C2) level French. 

Personal experience

Université Catholique de Lille
Université Catholique de Lille

As all of my classes were in French, the friends I made during my stay were a mix of both French students and exchange students also studying French. I’ll admit that it felt a little intimidating to make friends at first because it seemed like many of the exchange students had come with someone else from their home university, and the French tended to stick quite closely to their friendship groups. However, all the students I did interact with during my classes were all very friendly and ready to help. In the end, I came out of the experience with very good friends, both French and from other nationalities! 

Outside of the 3.5-month period I spent studying in Lille, the rest of my exchange was spent travelling through Europe. During this time I was to visit many different countries and cities. Seeing so much of Europe over my 7 months abroad was incredible, and I would recommend that anyone who does decide to study in Europe that they take full advantage of the accessibility of travel available to you. 


I stayed in a shared 2 person apartment in a student residence building, however not one partnered with Univerisité Catholique de Lille. This residence was located in Euralille (the shopping mall of Lille right next to the city centre) and paid about 470€ a month. The residence was nice, however if I were to go again I would probably search for a private residence in the old town (Vieux Lille), or perhaps have stayed closer to the University in a shared residence or dorm, as I sometimes felt quite lonely, and I feel like having stayed in a residence with other international students would have been a nicer social experience.


In terms of budgeting for groceries, the prices are similar to that of Australia. One of the benefits of the location of my accommodation was that it was located in the shopping mall of Lille, which had the biggest Carrefour supermarket. This meant that there was a whole lot of variety and prices were slightly cheaper than in the small stores throughout the city. I also did a lot of my shopping at the Wazemmes Markets just outside the metro stop Gambetta. This market was open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until 2pm and had a lot more variety of fruits and veggies than the supermarkets did. 

Transport in Lille was also not very expensive compared to other European cities. I paid 28€ a month for unlimited bus and metro transport. However, as Lille is not a big city you can easily walk if you are living closer to the University. You also have the option to pay for a year access to use the bicycles that are conveniently located around the city.

Professional development and employability

I think that having studied abroad is something that is well regarded by employers. Studying and living abroad has its many challenges that you learn to manage independently, as well as broadening your scope on the world, which gives you an edge compared to other prospective employees. Also, speaking a second language is always viewed positively by future employers.


It’s very difficult to pinpoint a highlight of the experience. Firstly, the experience of living in a different country where the language is not my native language was unforgettable. I learnt so much about both France and myself and how to integrate myself into a different cultural setting. This was definitely the part of my exchange that had the deepest and most influential impact on making me grow as a person. 

Secondly, if you’re lucky enough to be able to do some extra travelling during your stay like I was, the amount you get to see and learn is incredible! In just a few hours you can be in a different country, with a completely different language and completely different cultural backgrounds. Being able to experience such diverse cultures between countries that are in such close proximity to one another, from the way you interact with locals to the food that you eat, was probably my favourite thing about the travelling portion of my exchange. 

Top tips

  • Take some time to learn some French (even just the basics!). The French are really appreciative of those who make an effort to speak their language and you’ll find that your interactions with locals will be much warmer! 
  • Make the most of your weekend travel opportunities. Lille is a perfect home base for those wishing to travel through Europe. There are so many cheap options to get around by bus (Flixbus, Ouibus) or plane (RyanAir, EasyJet) and is easily manageable for weekend travel! 
  • That being said, remember to also spend some time exploring Lille. I spent almost every weekend travelling, but by the end I did feel that there were a few things in Lille I would have liked to get to know a little better. 
Francisca - Université Catholique de Lille