Karlie - Sciences Po

B. Arts
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

Whilst being on exchange I studied four Economic subjects; International Macroeconomic Finance and Trade, International Trade Negotiation, Political Economy of Central Banking and Economics of the EU. I really enjoyed studying in the centre of Paris, the university is in an amazing location, one of the most wealthiest arrondissements in Paris. Lectures at Sciences Po are not recorded, attendance is marked and if you miss more than three classes than you fail a subject. That was one thing that I found was completely different to studying at UQ.

Personal experience

I have gained so much from my semester abroad, I have made lifelong friends from all around the world, explored the amazing city of Paris, spent six months trying to improve my French with people automatically replying in English when I tried.

I have developed many skills over the course of my exchange, it has given me more confidence, living on the other side of the world not knowing anyone and going to university whilst living in a country where their first language isn't English can be a challenge but it was one that I'm glad I conquered. It has taught me to be more independent and always keep yourself busy, the French culture is all about socialising, catching up with friends before and after work, on lunch breaks, this is a quality I hope to adapt to my life back home.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus, as the closest campus accommodation was a 40 minute metro ride out of the city. I lived right in the heart of the Latin Quarter in a little studio apartment by myself. The location was absolutely perfect with a 15 minute walk to university and 5 minute walk to Notre Dame and 10 minute walk to the Louvre. 

Advice: If you are going to live alone on exchange make sure you have some good friends that you can frequently catch up with. It's nice living alone but can get very lonely sometimes especially when you start to feel homesick.

When looking for accommodation in Paris, start your search as soon as you get your acceptance. I was lucky enough to have some amazing friends and contacts in France that helped me to find the apartment where I was staying. Other exchange friends of mine were not so lucky. Paris is a very expensive city where you can be paying a fortune to live in a tiny maids closet in the centre of town. Just be prepared when budgeting for accommodation you may have to pay agency fees, bonds and many other charges.

Budget

My rent was very expensive, it was about 1200 euro a month. It was a perfect location and I had told myself that I was only doing a semester abroad once so why not make it worthwhile. I budgeted roughly 100 euro a week on food, transport is quite cheap. Definitely take advantage of cheap flights around Europe while you are there – if you book fair enough in advance you can get some good deals. To live happily including rent, food, transport and travel (not including flights) you would need at least $15,000.

Professional development and employability

From my semester abroad it has taught me to be more outgoing, be more confident to talk to new people and make new friends. I have improved my French language skills which will definitely assist me when going for international job opportunities in the future.

Highlight

One of the highlights of this experience was sitting in the Sciences Po lecture theatre on day 1 and being told by the President of the University that we should feel very honoured to be sitting where we are today because 4/5 of the past French Presidents have studied at Sciences Po. I had no idea how prestigious the university was until I got there. 

I have made so many amazing friends on my semester abroad and it was so sad to say goodbye to them all but I know we have made some amazing memories together and that is something we will treasure for a lifetime.

Top tips

  • Save as much money as you can before you leave.
  • Be prepared to not receive any financial aid from the French government (its only if you are issued with a specific visa).
  • Travel as much as you can while you are over in Europe.
  • Explore the city you are studying in.
  • Make the most of your exchange because it will be over before you know it.
  • Semester abroad is the best six months of your life, have fun, make friends and pass uni.