France Student exchange

Immersive Journey: Unveiling the Real Paris Experience

Alan – l’Université Paris Dauphine – France

Semester 2, 2022

Bachelor of Business


About me

Bonjour! I’m Alan and I study Business (Marketing). In Semester 2, 2022, I studied in France at l’Université Paris Dauphine. Prior to studying abroad, I visited France twice and have always been interested in the culture and language. I decided to study French at UQ through BULA for 4 semesters as a minor in my bachelor’s degree. After the Australian borders opened, I was keen to use what I had learned and to study in France. I would also be lying if I said Emily in Paris did not have an influence on my decision to study in Paris…


Essential tips before leaving Australia

My 2 essential tips are concerned with accommodation and savings. I highly recommend organising student accommodation prior to arriving in your chosen city. Student residencies are usually cheaper and easier to find. Most of the time, they are organised through your host university. Most of my friends were paying less than €500/month, which is an absolute bargain! You could have friends you could see often in the residency, or classmates to go to and from university with.

I chose not to seek student residency as locations were allocated randomly and not centrally located as I anticipated. I stayed in 3 different Airbnbs during my semester, which was costly and became annoying to continuously move. On the bright side, I was close to the city centre and experienced 3 different districts of Paris, each with its unique characteristics and charm.

Next: bring as much money as you can and monitor your spending. Having more money means you can travel, shop, dine out, and go out with friends. While there are plenty of fun things to do that are free, it is nice to know you can treat yourself every now and then. I found Paris is extremely expensive, especially dining out, and going to bars and nightclubs. Most students stop working during their studies abroad, so you always want to ensure you have enough money to last your semester or year. It is also beneficial to have backup money to cover unexpected costs. I recommend that once you comfortably settle in your city to budget, plan, and prioritise how you spend your money.


Parisians are rude and unwelcoming?

I always hear that Parisians are rude and unwelcoming, however, from my experience, this was not the case as I had 0 negative experiences in Paris. While my French was broken and not perfect, everyone was still able to understand me and was accommodating and patient. Parisians are more than happy to help with directions and assist others with their luggage, prams, and bags up and down stairs in the metro. I found all the Parisians I met at bars and nightclubs were cheeky, had great banter, and extremely fun to be around.


Some differences between Paris and Brisbane

Paris is extremely dense and busy all year round due to being one of the most visited cities in the world. You will never be bored due to the endless number of things you can do. Throughout the year, there is fashion week, cool exhibitions, and concerts of major artists. Everything usually opens at 10am and closes around 8pm. While it is a French-speaking city, I found you could complete a semester with very little French as a lot of people speak a little English. However, I highly recommend learning the language of your chosen country and immersing yourself as it is a great opportunity to assimilate and learn the language quicker. Locals also appreciate it when you attempt to speak the language.

Paris is more expensive than Brisbane, where a coffee is €5-5.50 ($7.75-8.50 AUD), a simple takeaway lunch is around €12 ($18.50 AUD), and a restaurant main is around €20 ($31 AUD). On the bright side, you can get AMAZING French red wines for less than €10! Public transport is great for getting around Paris. I paid €75/month ($116 AUD) for unlimited travel.

I was never harassed or felt threatened in Paris. The streets are lively all day including the evening. Many people catch the metro up until 1:15am when services terminate. I was extra cautious in crowded and touristy areas as these areas are more susceptible to pickpockets and scams. Pickpocketing is very common in Europe, so I was always ensuring my phone and wallet were secured in my pockets. I found Paris to be a safe city, however, a lot of my female friends would not 100% agree.


University experience

Interestingly, my university was the former NATO headquarters. I found it resembled a North American high school and was quite outdated, especially comparing it to QUT. Most students studied 4-5 units, each with a weekly 3-hour class with a 15-minute break. Assessments were relatively similar to end-of-semester exams. Some classes were interactive with weekly
presentations and group work that counted towards your overall grade. Each teacher allowed 2 unexcused absences, however, any more could permit them in failing a student in their class. While it is tempting to skip uni and travel, I highly recommend attending all your classes to not only be better prepared for the end-of-semester assessments but to also appreciate the
short time you have with friends. Remember, you are there for the purpose of uni, so enjoy the unique experience.


Final words

Only you can determine how you enjoy your experience. Upon leaving Australia, I decided to put myself out there and simply JUST DO IT! I learned that a random conversation can go a very long way and may reward you with an enjoyable experience, or even lifelong friends. My overall experience would’ve been completely different if I decided to remain shy and not attend events or initiate random conversations. The majority of people will be in the same position who are nervous, new to the city, and seeking friends. I highly recommend attending all of the orientation week as it is a good starting point to meet new people.

Thank you for reading!

Good luck and best wishes,

Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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