“Parlez-vous Anglais?” – My Paris exchange

During the summer holidays, I was fortunate enough to participate in the IÉSEG International Summer Academy program in Paris, France. Without trying to sound as cliché as every other person who also travelled to Europe over Summer this year, the experience was extraordinary and something I will forever be grateful for.

University Life

In completing the short-term exchange, I studied four business-related subjects and a beginner French course over the course of four weeks. Given the limited length of time available, an individual business subject was allocated to each week, while the French course was taught throughout each of the four weeks. During my exchange, I attended 112 contact hours of university with classes running each day from 9.30am to 4.45pm with a 45-minute lunch break in-between.

The structure of the program itself was very well set-out, with students allowed to select from quite a variety of subjects. The subjects I undertook – ‘European Integration’, ‘Business Development Skills’, ‘Decision and Game Theory for Negotiation’, ‘Intercultural Communication’, ‘Pop Culture, Immigration and Modern Art in France’ and ‘Beginner French’ were all enjoyable and taught by highly experienced international teaching staff. The successful completion of the program resulted in me being credited with two general electives towards my degree here at QUT.

However, to say I wasn’t absolutely exhausted by the end of the program would be a lie. I genuinely don’t believe I’ve attended that many contact hours in the entirety of the five years I have studied here at QUT, so to finish that many in only a month was quite tiring. Having that many contact hours at the university unfortunately meant that being able to travel around and fully immerse yourself in Parisian culture was limited to how much energy you had left in the tank after class.

IESEG is located in the major business district of Paris – ‘La Défense’ – under the Grand Arche

Entrance to IESEG – one of the top Business Schools in France

Accommodation and friends

Accommodation for the program was at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, a private area comprising of 40 residences that houses close to 6,000 students (mostly post-grad) that is located in the 14th district of Paris. We all had our own spacious private room and bathroom. However, given its location was a 45-55-minute metro train to and from IESEG, it wasn’t catered, the rooms did not have any form of cooling to deal with the consistent 32-27 degree temperatures throughout the month and it was rather expensive – most of us found the accommodation very inconvenient. I would strongly suggest looking at alternative forms of accommodation if attending IESEG as there was much cheaper and more convenient locations available through AirBnB and other Paris accommodation websites. Despite this, the ability to drink, eat and just simply hang out with others in the program all the time meant that many, many close friendships were formed. Saying goodbye to all the amazing people I became close to was genuinely very tough; I hope that one day I will be able to travel overseas again to visit them again.

View from my room at the Maison des Provinces de France Residence at Cité Universitaire

Fulfilling my childhood dreams at Disneyland Paris

Fun Fact: At our International Evening Showcase I represented Australia by doing a ‘shoey’ out of an RM Williams boot.

Satisfied with my new allies in Russia and Kazakhstan – very nice.

Major Highlights of Paris

Allez les Bleus!

Standing under the Eiffel Tower in a crowd of close to one-hundred thousand and witnessing France beat Croatia to win the FIFA World Cup Final is undoubtedly one of the most surreal experiences I have ever been a part of. The only words capable of describing the atmosphere of the city of Paris that night was ‘complete and utter euphoria’. The celebrations carried on well through the night, with the highlight being the post-match victory march up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

World Cup – One of the best experiences of my life!

Bastille Day

On 14 July, France celebrates one of the most significant events’ in their history – the storming of the Bastille in 1789. It is a full day of celebrations, starting with the largest regular military parade in Europe held in the morning on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and ending with a fireworks display set off from the Eiffel Tower at night. It was inspiring to see that despite all the atrocities that have occurred in recent years – particularly in Paris with the terrorist attacks; the French people were still willing to get together to celebrate French culture and demonstrate their pride and loyalty to their country.

Enjoying the Bastille Day Military Parade with fellow QUT exchange student – Tahl Kean

French President Emmanuel Macron leading the Parade as Jets flew overhead

Lollapalooza

On the second weekend of my exchange, the Lollapalooza music festival was held only 10 minutes’ drive from our accommodation. Headliners included The Killers, Travis Scott, Gorillaz, Diplo, Zara Larsson, Rag’n’Bone Man, Dillon Francis and Portugal. The Man. The festival was phenomenal and worth every cent of the ridiculous amount of money I spent on it.

Myself and fellow QUT exchange student Jak Nicholls (second from the left) enjoying the festivities.

Tour de France Finale

On my last weekend the final stage of the Tour de France finished on the Champs-Élysées. I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, crowded the avenue to cheer on the riders. I was able to get a very good position next to the Arc de Triomphe to watch the action take place. While not anywhere near as exciting as the events of the World Cup, it was certainly a memorable experience and another activity checked off of my bucket list.

Not a bad viewpoint for the race

Final Comments

This short blog barely touches on the incredible month that I was able to experience in Paris. From picnics under the Eiffel tower, visits to the Palace of Versailles and Palais Garnier (Famous Opera House), exploring of the Louvre Museum, eating my weight in macaroons at Pierre Hermé and so much more; going on this short-term exchange was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I am so grateful to the QUT Business School for supporting me in undertaking this program and strongly encourage all to apply for this experience in the future.

Find out more about exchange opportunities at QUT Business School >>

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