Eloise – University Paris Dauphine
Semester 2, 2019
Bachelor of Mathematics
I’ve always loved France, and after doing an exchange to rural France in high school, Paris was an obvious choice! Leaving Brisbane, I was so excited for this adventure to begin. Still, there was a small part of me anxious about making friends and finding “my people”. But now that it’s over, I know that I never should have worried about that because there are so many people in the same boat, that you readily find “your” group.
During my four months of study, I attended Université Paris Dauphine, which is located about a 20min walk from l’Arc de Triomphe. The university itself is quite different from QUT. The campus is the former site of the United Nations and is just one building (although they have another campus at La Defense that I never visited), that has a courtyard in the centre.
Université Paris Dauphine had a number of differences from QUT. When it came to class time, unlike QUT there was one 3hr class with a 15min break per unit, as opposed to lectures and workshops. As well, rather than QUT’s lecture theatres, rooms were more comparable to classroom size, depending on the subject, with approximately 30 students per class. I studied a plethora of subjects and particularly loved the two FLE (French as a Foreign language) classes that I did, in which I learnt about Art and Cinema. I would recommend attempting the French classes if you can, particularly if you are looking to learn French or extend your existing vocabulary.
Getting to university is fairly easy, with a metro stop right next to it. Fortunately, I had a central apartment in the 8th arrondissement, so I chose to walk the 4km to and from university instead. Being in Paris, this was easy as my journey to university consisted of walking down the Champs-Elysées each day!
When it comes to food at University, Dauphine has vending machines that have coffee, drinks, snacks, sushi rolls and pasta. They also have a small café where you can buy toasties, muffins and coffee. However, prepare for a LONG line-up! If your schedule allows enough time, be sure to grab the cafeteria lunch for only 3.30 euros!! You get a full plate of hot food plus your choice of tarts, fruit, salads etc. For that price, you can’t go wrong!
Whilst Dauphine does offer some activities during O-week, they also offer an Intensive French Seminar (for a fee), where for a few days you can either start your journey learning French or improve/ refresh your existing knowledge. I found this was a great way to make friends and help me to brush up on my French.
The Dauphine Erasmus Exchange (DEE) also hosts events during the first week, which for me included a picnic at Invalides and an afternoon of volleyball. It was during this first week that I made most of my friends, with whom I kept in contact throughout my exchange and ended up travelling with to many European destinations. Of course, I also made more friends during the classes themselves, but I found it a great advantage to already know a few people in my class by the time classes officially commenced.
When it comes to accommodation, I chose to rent a private one-bedroom apartment as opposed to student accommodation. Whilst this was significantly more expensive, I liked that I was able to choose to live in a central location and also so that I’d have room for my friends or family members to stay when they came to visit! However, in saying that, student accommodation is a lot cheaper and a good way to meet new people. The locations offered in Paris, from what I heard from friends and other students, seemed to be slightly hit or miss, with some located centrally and others further north.
Paris was a great spot to stay, not only for the beauty and rich culture that it offers but also because it’s the centre of transport in France. You can find a plane, train or bus to go wherever you’d like! For me, I only had classes Tuesday – Thursday, so I had a long weekend every weekend to travel! I travelled both with friends and solo and loved everywhere I went! My favourite places ended up being Finland, Ireland and Iceland. I made so many amazing memories.
Beware of protests and strikes!
Whilst Paris definitely captured my heart, be prepared to experience the French bureaucracy! During my time there, there was a protest most weekends (mainly Saturdays). Most of that time, I was away travelling so this didn’t really affect me. However, when I was there, there was always a large police presence and I knew the areas to avoid, so I never felt unsafe. Unfortunately, for my last almost two months, the transport workers did decide to go on strike. So, most metros, buses and trains weren’t working. My trains to Switzerland for Christmas also got cancelled, but luckily I was able to rebook free of charge. So be prepared for anything to happen with the French!
You won’t regret it!
At the start of the exchange, one of my professors at Dauphine told the class how students in their final weeks of exchange often say, “I wish I would’ve…” and “I should’ve…”. I kept that in the back of my mind through it all, making sure I made the most of each day and did everything I wanted. Whilst there are still destinations on my bucket list for future travel, and still more to explore in Paris, I can safely say that there’s nothing I would have changed about my exchange to Paris.
So, if you’re thinking about going on exchange, just do it! It is an incredible experience that you will never forget, and you leave with memories and friends that will be with you for life!