Europe Exchange First impressions France

A truly life changing experience in France

Alice – IESEG School of Management, France

Semester 2, 2019
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

Completing an exchange was a truly life changing and special experience. It was exciting, fulfilling and challenging in ways that I simply could not have imagined. I studied at IESEG in Lille, France; and can say with confidence that the city and university is incredible. Life on campus was bubbling with endless student events and activities; designed to get everyone involved and included. At IESEG, I found everyone to be really friendly and I always felt welcome in any situation. The university facilities were modern, and all classes were designed to be highly interactive and engaging.

There was a high degree of group work involved in most classes; which I found most enjoyable as it offered the opportunity to work with lots of people from lots of different cultures. Subjects were delivered either through an intensive or extensive mode; meaning you could either complete a subject over the course of a week, or over the entire semester. This was a great academic feature, as it gave students flexibility with their timetable and allowed them to easily factor in travel around lessons.

Whilst there were many differences in relation to the university experience, there were many more in terms of lifestyle. Being a European country, France provided many cultural differences regarding food, etiquette and celebrations. As per the stereotype, it was not uncommon to see people walking down the street holding a baguette. Every bakery was filled with beautiful breads, pastries and treats that would be rare to find in Australia.

The time at which you eat also differs, with many families eating at 8pm or later. The French also like to greet by way of the ‘bisou’, where you exchange kisses on each cheek. That aspect was quite a shock at the beginning, and hard to get into the habit of! Cost of living can be relatively pricey; however, it does definitely depend on individual purchase habits and choice of accommodation. I chose to live in a residence, which was on the more expensive end of the scale. However, this accommodation did include many facilities and perks; as well as being a great place to make new people. There was some degree of culture shock upon arrival, however I found most of these cultural differences exciting and interesting.

There were many highlights of my exchange, and it is difficult to say which were the best moments. However, I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and travelling around Europe. Being located in the north of France, we made sure to take full advantage of the ease and accessibility of travel. From Germany, all the way down to Italy, we saw many impressive sights and monuments. Of course, with the good times, there are always a few down times. I didn’t experience many of these, however when I did, it was mostly to do with homesickness or the weather. We are so lucky in Australia to have beautiful blue skies every day, so the constant gloominess of overcast European winter skies can sometimes be a little depressing. Being so far away from your family can also be difficult, however I found that constantly being surrounded by such fun friends was a real distraction from this.

Advice for future global trotters

My advice for future students wishing to go on exchange would be to ensure you choose a destination which you are, or can be, really passionate about. Being out of your comfort zone in a place which you end up disliking or not connecting with would be really hard. As well as this, I would advise to stay highly organised throughout the entire exchange process. There are a lot of important fine details which crop up along the way, which can be easily missed if you’re not paying close attention and regularly checking emails.

I would also advise students to push and challenge themselves; don’t just always choose the easier or more comfortable option. Some of the most amazing experiences happened because I bit the bullet and decided to take a chance. I would also stress the importance of being strict with your saving and then overall spending within the country; it’s no fun feeling like you can’t experience or do something because you don’t have enough money – which can often happen toward the end if too much was spent at the beginning.

I think it’s also really important to put yourself out there and meet as many people, and do as many things, as possible. It’s such a once in a lifetime experience, it’d be a shame to waste the opportunity.

Find out more about IESEG School of Management Lille

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