Exchange France Student exchange Study

A Lifechanging Exchange: My Semester in Lille, France

Tessa – IÉSEG – Lille, France  

Semester 2, 2023 

Double Bachelor of Business (Marketing) & Bachelor of Design (Interior Architecture) 


An experience of a lifetime.  

If I could sum up my exchange in one sentence I would say: a lifechanging experience filled with so many highs. I have been studying a double degree of Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Bachelor of Design majoring in Interior Architecture for the past 3 years.  I have forever had a love for travel and exploring new cultures, so going on exchange has been a dream of mine for a while now. I initially applied the year prior to when I went on my exchange, however pulled out of the process not thinking I was ready to take the leap just yet, but boy am I glad I did in the end. It can be scary to move away from everything you know and are comfortable with for a life you have no idea how it will unfold. But I told myself if I believe I will even have an ounce of regret if I didn’t go, I needed to see it through.  

Going to France was an incredible experience. The food, the architecture, the people, the fashion, the wine, the ease of travel, everything was better than I could have expected. Whilst I have travelled to France before and been lucky enough to see a lot of the beautiful country, visiting and living are two entirely different things. France, like many countries can have some intense stereotypes, one especially being that the French are rude. This couldn’t be further from the truth. After being on exchange it opens your eyes to the complexities of the world, and how no one truly thinks the way you do.  

Living overseas makes you become aware of your own preconceptions, ideas, and values, and with time allows you to become so much more open and understanding. The French are beautiful people, perhaps not as laid back as Australians but always happy to chat if you make an effort. My biggest piece of advice would be to give the language ago. Even if you have never learnt it before, you can enrol in a French class through the school whilst you are there or begin to teach yourself before you go. Whilst it isn’t the easiest of languages to learn, a little goes a long way. Your experience will be that much better because you have entered a place where you are respecting their language, and that respect will be reciprocated.  

Lille is in the most ideal northern location to easily traverse Europe. If you are interested in travelling Lille is the perfect destination for you. A beautiful city not too big and not too small, with gorgeous cobble stoned streets, a blend between Flemish and Parisian architecture, plentiful of decadent patisseries, cafés, bars and as it is a large student town you are sure to find a bustling night out any day of the week. A 30-minute train ride to Brussels, Belgium, a little under an hour and a half to Paris and London and 100+ destinations a short train, bus or flight away.  


My favourite city I visited whilst on exchange would have to be between Prague, Czech Republic for its rich history, delectable food and jaw dropping medieval architecture (the architecture nerd in me can’t help but admire every building), and Céfalu, Sicily for the beautiful intimate cobbled streets, the gorgeous coastline and some of the best Italian I have ever tried (you can never go wrong by visiting Italy). Travelling on a budget is much easier here too, with the close proximities and cheaper living expenses than Australia you can expect to be exploring Europe on your days off. However, be prepared for a very different course structure to QUT. It is more common to do between 8-15 subjects per semester, with subjects being either an extensive course (runs the whole semester) or an intensive course (runs for 4 days one week and is complete after the 4 days or exam). I did the equivalent of three QUT subjects which allowed a perfect blend between studies and time off to explore or work.  

The best decision I made was to stay in a shared house. I lived with so many beautiful people and made some friends I will keep forever – perhaps a family is a better word to describe them. I prefer to be surrounded by people especially given I moved there alone, so living in a house of others was my first preference. Obviously, there are other accommodation options like student housing, private rentals etc. and some are more affordable than others, each have their pros and cons, however living in a house of 9 other people meant there was always someone to lean on, always someone ready to party, and always made the house feel like a home.   

Whilst exchange can seem like an incredible experience full of so many highs, be prepared to feel a little lost at times. There are many expectations you can set for yourself that are sometimes unrealistic, and not letting yourself get beat up over it is crucial. You are in a foreign country, with people you don’t know, the little daily things you are used to are switched up, and even things like a time difference can make you feel disconnected from home.  

Exchange is a lifechanging experience and one I hope anyone who considers it pursues. Best of luck to those embarking on this incredible journey.  

My final three pieces of advice: 

Give yourself time –  

be patient and kind with yourself, everything will fall into place and before you know it you will be organising trips to reunite with your lifelong friends.  

Put yourself out there   

don’t be afraid to be judged, no one knows you here, let these 4-6 months be a time to truly discover yourself.  

Immerse yourself –  

4-6 months is a decent time to immerse yourself in the city & country you are in. Visit the local sites, try different foods, explore the surrounding areas, attempt to speak the language, this opportunity doesn’t come around often so take in as much as you can. You will look back at this time with only fond memories. 


Tessa Kinivan  

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

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