Ruby - Université Lumière Lyon 2

B. International Studies
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I spent Semester One of my third year of a Bachelor of International Studies in Lyon, gaining credit towards my French major and electives. The courses varied in difficulty - some I passed with ease, while others were more challenging. In general, the teachers are quite understanding of exchange students and don’t mark as hard as they would on French students, but attending classes is (generally) compulsory, so don’t book trips during the week. It’s quite confusing at the beginning of the semester to find out information about classes. To overcome this, I’d recommend talking to as many other exchange students as you can about what courses they’re going to, and to tag along to as many as possible in the first week to get an idea of what’s offered. You can also go to the faculty offices to find out about the course timetables. To enrol in the courses, there is no online system - it’s all paper! To sign up for a course, simply approach the teacher after the class and get them to sign the sheet given to you by the Lyon 2 exchange office - this is a good way to introduce yourself and let the teacher know you’re an exchange student, and to clarify any details of the assessment you have probably missed, as they usually only explain it verbally.

If you want to meet French students, I’d recommend taking the “course” atelier de conversation - English conversation workshops led by exchange students to help the French students practise their English. It is really relaxed and only runs for five weeks, and I found it really rewarding - and it is worth 5ECTS! I also took SLM (French for exchange students), French civilisation and French literature for exchange students, a French grammar class for local students, and an elective for French students called “Lyon, une métropole européenne?” which involved excursions to different areas of Lyon most weeks, about the changing functions of the city.

Compared to UQ, the academic system at Lyon 2 is somewhat difficult to navigate for exchange students, as there is not a lot of information readily available online about courses. I found the workload to be manageable, leaving plenty of time to take trips on the weekends and semester breaks.

Personal experience

Place des Jacobins, Lyon
Place des Jacobins, Lyon

Since completing my exchange, I feel much more confident in myself. Before going, I was worried about having to be almost completely independent in a foreign place, but I soon overcame this out of necessity. There are so many other exchange students having the same issues that you won’t have a problem asking for help. My French language skills also improved a lot, despite it being difficult to befriend the local students.


I lived in the public university residence, André Allix, which you apply for online through the university some months before arriving. Although the shared kitchen wasn’t very clean, it was a good way to meet other students, and the cheapest and easiest option for me, going to a city I hadn’t been to before. The residence is a short bus or funicular ride from the Lyon CBD and Vieux Lyon, and walking distance from an amazing two-thousand-year-old Roman theatre which is used for concerts in summer. Although it would have been a wonderful experience to live in an apartment in the beautiful centre-ville, I hadn’t lived alone before and didn’t want to risk not finding a place straight away. However, many other exchange students managed to find a share house after some weeks of searching, with varying budgets.


My rent was only 230 euros per month due to living in the student residence, which left me with more money to travel and experience the city. I found groceries comparable to the prices in Australia, as long as you avoid the small convenience stores. I’d recommend buying the Carte Jeune, a youth card which gives you discounts on the French trains. It’s 50 euros, but I quickly saved more than the cost of it, and sometimes First Class tickets are the same price as Second Class when buying online. It also makes the cost of the TGV to Paris or Marseille less painful - try to book well in advance, but I managed to get some last minute deals as well. EasyJet offers very cheap flights to a lot of destinations from Lyon, and iDBus is a new bus service which sometimes offers extremely cheap tickets if you have a lot of time. Including travel, I spent around $15,000, which came from the OS-HELP loan, a UQ Advantage scholarship, and my own savings. It depends on your own comfort levels, but you could survive off less than I spent.

Professional development and employability

If you want to put foreign language skills on your CV, having lived overseas is the best way to prove that you know more than a few words. If a future employer expects you to communicate with foreigners, a deeper understanding of foreign cultures and customs is just as important as knowing the language.


The best part of the exchange is that there are so many highlights that it’s impossible to choose one. For me, seeing snow for the first time was really exciting, much to the amusement of the European students.

Top tips

  • When in Lyon, do as the Lyonnais do.
  • Try the local food at least once, no matter how strange it seems.
  • Go to the market by the river (la Saône) on the weekend and buy cheese, bread, fruit and cakes for a picnic.
  • Just do it! I know it’s daunting to submit your application and imagine living on the other side of the world, but I haven’t met anyone who regretted going on exchange.
Ruby - Université Lumière Lyon 2