Rachel - Sciences Po Paris

Bachelor of Arts/Laws
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

I took five law courses in Paris, four in English and one in French. The main difference compared to my studies at UQ was the amount of oral presentations we had to do at Sciences Po. I had to do both group and individual presentations for four out of the five courses, which is very different to UQ where law subjects are assessed in the form of written assignments and exams. My English courses were all made up almost entirely of exchange students, so if you want to make friends with French students, you need to get into the cultural or sporting life of the university.

Personal experience

My French language skills and confidence in speaking the language definitely improved. It was great to have the semester in Paris because this gave me time to explore the many amazing things that the city has to offer. I found it really easy to make friends with my classmates, who I generally found to be outgoing and easy to get along with. It was also great to meet people from all over the world and this sparked very interested discussions in class because of the different perspectives everyone brought to the table.

Accommodation

On-campus living was not available for Sciences Po so I lived in an apartment with other exchange students who also attended Sciences Po. If you really want to improve your language skills, though, I would recommend finding a home-stay.

Costs

Paris is an expensive city and you should budget accordingly, but there are many discounts to be had by using your French student card.

Professional Development

The exchange was valuable because I got to meet such a wide range of people who all had different approaches to how things should be done and how problems should be solved. It also gave me the opportunity to study subjects which are not available at UQ and were very interesting.

Highlight

For me the highlight was not a single moment, but rather it is a collection of memories of times when I had sudden moments of clarity in which I could understand not only the words of the person I was speaking to in French, but also the nuances behind it which really gave me insight into the French attitudes and culture.

Top tips

Be prepared for things to be different. The cultural and everyday expectations of life are different in another country. This is not only at university, but also for activities as simple as grocery shopping. However, don't let this deter you! Embrace the difference, it is a valuable chance to see how other societies function and for you to join in that for a short period of time.
I would also highly recommend doing the welcome program in orientation week.