An Amazing Time in Lille!

Amelia O., Bachelor of Business
IESEG School of Management, France (Semester 2, 2018)

I went on Exchange at IESEG School of Management in Lille, France.

IESEG School of Management is not a very big school but it is very spread out over Lille and the buildings can be quite tricky to find if you don’t have a map or a friend who has been there before. The classes themselves are very different from the usual QUT business unit set up. If you are just a regular exchange student like me and can select quite a large amount of units as electives, you’ll have the chance to do both intensive and extensive courses. In total I did 13 classes over the semester. Intensive courses are set up as a one-week class, four hours a day with class spanning four days with normally a presentation on Thursday and an exam on Friday or an assignment due the following week. Extensive classes are just like classes at QUT, lasting 13 weeks with regular classes each week. I really enjoyed intensive classes as they were fast, interesting and over in a week, meaning it was hard to get bored of the class content. I didn’t do all intensives and I probably should have by doubling up intensive classes in the first two weeks. The classes tend to be very interactive and the wide variety of classes actually helped me to narrow down what I wanted to do with my degree in marketing once I finish university. Also, if you have the chance to do Experiential Marketing with Trish Rubin, take this course because I had most fun I think I’ve ever had in a class at university.

Now in Lille unlike Brisbane 1-2km is far and can even take you out of the city centre. I didn’t know this before coming here so my accommodation was further away than I would have originally liked and I needed to take the bus (which became a hassle when I had to organise my bus card). So I would recommend spending the extra money (if you can) and get accommodation as close to the university as you can so everything is in walking distance. Other than that, my roommates were incredible and I was able to meet 4 new people from all over the world.

New Friends in Lille

New Friends in Lille

Lille is a hub for travel; it is not only close to so many countries including England, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany where you can get there by bus, but it is also really easy to get to places like Portugal, Spain and Italy by plane. While I was there I was able to visit all of these countries on the weekends and sometimes during the week if I did not have an intensive course. The university also organises school trips to places like Oktoberfest, Strasbourg for the Christmas markets, Amsterdam and small day trips to places like Dunkirk. These trips are a little expensive but are definitely worth it because 1. You don’t have to organise anything 2. They take you to places that can be quite difficult to organise on your own and 3. You get to go with friends and you’ll end up making so many friends and memories during them. If you are organising the travel by yourself, FlixBus, Oui Bus and the GoEuro are great websites to find tickets and Skyscanner is a great place to find cheap tickets to all sorts of destinations.

In total for the exchange experience I saved $13,000 (including the bursary and loans). This would have been enough if I’d just stayed in Lille and only gone travelling once. However, I did around 2 months of travelling so I did need to borrow some money and luckily my amazing parents were able to loan me the money I needed.

It was one of the best experiences of my life, so if you are thinking of going on exchange to France I would definitely recommend going to Lille.

Living in France

Sophia A., Bachelor of Law/ Behavioural Science
Catholic University of Lille, France (Semester 1, 2017)

My name is Sophia Armitage and I am a 20 year old QUT student who just finished her semester abroad! At QUT, I study a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science; however, I used my free electives to do my exchange as it made it easier to pick classes. I went to the Catholic University of Lille (France) and I cannot recommend it enough!

Accommodation

The university was always happy to help me with any questions I had; there were even students who showed me around and to my residence (which was right across the street). The campus at the university was a bit Harry Potter like as it is an old set of buildings (mainly). The first thing I had to get used to was the million stairs around the building and the hectic security, but after I got the hang of that it wasn’t too dissimilar to QUT. My residence was very close which made my midday naps easy! But it was also right where all the student eating areas were (there are specific places where a whole meal is only 3.25 euros). I stayed at the Teilhard de Chardin and it was clean, quiet, but still lively. There are allocated study rooms in the building too, which were useful throughout the semester. The style of the classes was more similar to high school as it’s about 15 different subjects and one class each week of each. There was a lot less direction from the teachers and sometimes it was really hard to understand what I needed to do (even though all my classes were in English) but I soon realised that it was pretty simple if I just treated it like high school.

Culture Shock

As I’ve never really travelled before, this was a fairly big culture shock. Six months in a different country is pretty insane, let alone somewhere that is all terrace buildings and cute cobble stone roads. The cost of living was very low; food and drink was inexpensive as was clothing and bedding. Lille is in a perfect spot because it’s cheaper to live than Paris but it is still very easy to travel from. There are buses and trains that go to major airports and that even go to the UK. The only thing that was very strange to me was that on Sunday everything is closed. Also, that after around 2:30pm all the cafes close their kitchens. Other than that, and other than the language barrier, the culture shock wasn’t too extreme.

Some of the best parts of my exchange were just the regular parts of the day. The only other QUT student and I made a friendship group very early on and we had regular catch-ups at a local pub (La Faluche) and went to restaurants regularly. I also had a group of French friends who showed me the local hang out spots. I also really enjoyed my subjects that I was studying in the FLCH faculty (mainly humanities and literature).

Adjusting, Homesickness and Budgets

I really didn’t expect to be so homesick at the start of the exchange, even though many people told me it would happen. Luckily, I made a friend who had been through a similar thing when she did her exchange and she helped me through it. I also didn’t expect to make such fantastic lifelong friends. We made a Facebook group chat that we all still use; I now have a place to stay in all of their home countries. My main tips for doing the semester abroad is to pack lightly clothes wise because there are loads of things you’ll want to buy. Pack a towel, pillow, and a blanket of some sort for when you first get there because you’ll be tired and just want to rest. Definitely make a budget for your expenses so that when the holidays come you have enough to travel around. Another thing that I wish I had done was to set up some realistic goals for how often I would communicate with people in Australia so that I wasn’t pushing them too much and they had a realistic idea of how often I would be able to contact them. The mentality the international students have is different to how we all are usually; this impacted the relationships I had in Australia and I wish I had had the foresight to plan around that.

I would 100% recommend a semester abroad to anyone, the experience was once in a lifetime and the things I learnt are invaluable. Where there is a will there is a way; there are so many things that QUT, the government, or your host university can help you with. I only wish I had more electives so I could go again!

Great food and great friends in France!

Brad S., Bachelor of Business and Engineering                                                            Toulouse Business School, France (Semester 1, 2017)

My name is Brad Saunders and I spent a semester at Toulouse Business School (TBS) in the South of France. This is was one of the best decisions I have made in my life and I have created memories that will last a lifetime.

LIFE IN TOULOUSE

I first arrived in Toulouse on the 30th of August 2016, unsure of what to expect. I felt nervous stepping off the plane from Toulouse-Blagnac Aeroport. A few things passed through my mind; including how I would make friends, and whether I would adjust to a foreign language and culture. This was the first time I had moved out of home. Moving into a student residence with a fellow QUT student Peter, was a liberating experience as it allowed me to live a French lifestyle.

I was immediately shocked about how slow the people do things in France, it was more laid back than even Australia! They summed it up perfectly for me while I was there, “It’ll get done when it gets done.” A helpful hint would be to always be prepared for the fact that this is a French speaking country and English comes second. Even if you aren’t proficient in French, just try, effort can get you a long way with the people.

Making friends in the residence and checking out the nightlife at the famous St Pierre really put France into perspective for me. The French are socialites, even on a Tuesday night; people of all ages would be out socialising with food and drink. This night really set the tone for the rest of my experience in Toulouse. There are three things you must do: eat cheese, drink wine and socialise as often as possible.

UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE

A few days later my true university experience was going to start, it was time to start classes. I was immediately shocked by the amount of international students and how small the classes were at TBS. Coming from QUT, where I sat in grand lecture halls such as Z411, I was suddenly in a classroom with 40 other people for the whole semester. There was no hiding, no looking at your phone or not socialising with other students. These classmates would later become my social group at TBS, some of which were French, but the majority being international students like myself.

The best part of my exchange can be summed up simply; by the connections you make along the way. My best recommendation for any student on exchange, is to talk to everyone you can at your host university. Memories are best shared with the others you meet along the way, it is tough to leave them behind when it is time to return home; but it is motivation for you to return again and continue your travels.

I urge you to take the plunge and give an exchange a go. It will be a memory that you will take with you forever.

Nice – a nice change from Brisbane

Thomas M., Master of Business (Applied Finance)
EDHEC Business School, France (Semester 2, 2016 & Semester 1, 2017)

Over nine months, I spent two semesters in France at the EDHEC Business School campus in Nice from September 2016 to May 2017, completing the dual master programme in applied finance/corporate finance and banking. During this time, I lived in central Nice and studied at the EDHEC campus about 5km out of the city centre. The classes, assessment, academic organisation, cohort and campus at EDHEC were all quite different to my studies in Brisbane at QUT, with both advantages and disadvantages.

Firstly, at many French colleges, class attendance is mandatory and unjustified absences can result in academic penalties. However, the system of marking attendance is somewhat inefficient as it relied upon a sheet of paper circulated throughout the students and as a result, incorrect and unchangeable class absences are a somewhat regular occurrence. The campus itself is quite nice and modern but is much smaller than that of QUT Gardens Point or Kelvin Grove, lacking sports fields, bars or study rooms and having only a single canteen. The library is also quite small and finding a desk can be very competitive so many students tend to study inside vacant classrooms or at home.

Outside of the administrative aspects, the content and assessment of classes was overall more challenging than that at QUT and very case study-based. This was useful in gaining more knowledge in applicability of theoretical concepts to actual business cases. The school has quite a strong focus on case studies and recruits many lecturers from corporate positions for short stints of teaching, including from accounting and law firms, investment and corporate banks and consultancies. I found this a great way of teaching because it helped me to gain insight into the work-life practices of people within these careers and see what their roles really entailed, and it offered good opportunities for networking.

Living in Nice was obviously quite a large change from Brisbane in several ways. Firstly, it is much smaller in size and population than Brisbane making it quite easy to get around town without a car. While the general culture is also different, I found it generally pleasant and a fun place to live and didn’t experience much of a “culture shock”. The cohort of international students often has similar backgrounds and interests and there are often student-led functions and events, so socialising with other exchange students is easy and fun. While I tried to improve my French, nearly everyone understands English so getting around and meeting people is often easy. The city of Nice itself is also a great holiday destination and really fun to live in as there are numerous restaurants, bars and public gardens to explore, and the French Riviera has some great beaches and views of the Mediterranean.

Moving to France was daunting at first but overall, a great experience that helped me to meet people, make lots of new friends and learn finance from a European perspective. Finding a job in Europe is also far easier with a European qualification and while living in the region, which is something that wouldn’t have been as easily available from Australia.

Cheese and Baguettes? Oui Oui!

Relicia G., Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Catholique Universitie de Lille, France (Semester 1, 2017)

Exchange is honestly going to be the best decision you ever
make. If you’re going to the Catholique Universitie de Lille,
then there are a few simple things that can help you adjust
to life in France.

Catholique Universitie de Lille

My suggestion, if you want to be close to campus, is to
definitely stay in the AEU student housing. We don’t really
have the opportunity to be completely immersed in student
life this way in Brisbane, so it’s a very unique experience.
More importantly, it’s also where you’ll make most of
your friends, go to fun events sponsored by the AEU
and be involved in a lot of school activities. Plus you
get free breakfast!

Free breaky!

The way the schooling system works is a lot like the
Australian high school, you’ll be at class 5 days a
week and you’ll have a lot of subjects to do. But
luckily, these subjects will not be as difficult as the four units we do at QUT.
So never fear, you’ll have plenty of time to have fun!
There are a lot of multicultural projects that you can be involved in such as
sport, dancing and photography. My favorite was the gastronomy project, where
you can get together with a group of French and
other exchange students, and essentially just eat!
You get to enjoy allot of foreign cuisines, and
learn about culture and traditions from other
nationalities.


There are also a lot of sport teams you can join,
such as basketball, handball and badminton. I
strongly suggest that you get involved in as many of
these projects and teams as possible because that’s
where you’ll get your best experiences!
It’s also a smart idea to familiarize yourself with the
public transport systems, as that is what you will be
primarily using to get around. The metro and bus
systems are pretty cheap, but the train gets very
expensive if you have to use it last minute.

Some funky facts about France:
– There are entire isles dedicated to cheese and wines
– You have to eat the baguettes in one day or else they’ll go off
– Classes usually start at 8am
– It rains constantly (and for some reason only tourists use umbrellas)
– If you’re there during the winter, bring a coat because it’s going to get
REALLY cold
– Everything is closed on Sundays. EVERYTHING.
– You won’t need to buy books, everything is either
emailed to you or given in class (like
highschool)
– Familiarized yourself with bisous, I guarantee
your going to have strangers come up to you
expecting it
– If someone invites you over for lunch or dinner, expect it to take at
least 3 hours minimum
– If you need something done, by any French association, double the
time you’d expect it to take, then add an extra 2 weeks
– Be wary of the smelly cheese

But the most important thing to remember is:
HAVE FUN!

A World Class Fashion Experience in Paris

Ashleigh Hobbs, Bachelor of Creative Industries

Short-term program: IESEG ‘Fashion Business in Paris 2018’

France (July 2018)

My name is Ashleigh Hobbs, a second-year student at QUT, majoring in fashion and film. In June/July of 2018, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Paris, France, and study fashion and business at IESEG School of Management.

The institution I studied at, IESEG School of Management, was in La Défense; the business sector of Paris. We had student residency, only a five-minute walk from the school, and this was shared with other students taking our classes. The residency was fantastic, we each had individual apartments containing a fully equipped kitchenette, bathroom, queen sized bed, TV and wardrobe. In addition to this, we had access to complimentary breakfast, including on the weekends.

Life on campus was incredible; because the program is international and immersive, you connect with amazing people from across the globe. Having these friendships made the course even more so engaging and enriching; not only were you immersed in the Parisian fashion culture but also learning about different international cultures and traditions at the same time.

The program allows you to connect with people from across the globe.

The academic structure was incredibly smooth and well organised, making it easy to follow, but nevertheless, there was a high work ethic and heavy participation expected from each student. The opportunities granted to us students were world class. Not only did we receive tours of major fashion exhibits, but we also got a tour the Ecole Lesage – the company whom work with customers such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and thus forth. We got to watch the women hand make the tweed samples for the upcoming SS19 Chanel show; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Louvre.

I had the most positive experience at IESEG and was exposed to so much industry practice thanks to this wonderful school; I could not be more fulfilled or happier with how the program was.

As one can imagine, the French capital is vastly different to Brisbane, and Australia in general. It is always important to remain extremely aware in the streets, and personally, I would always advise being with company when venturing away from the student residency and university. It makes it that little bit less stressful having two pairs of eyes and ears and is far more enjoyable in company. Site seeing in the main tourist areas is perfectly safe in your own, however make sure you know the areas you’re in and always take caution.

The streets of Paris.

Nevertheless, Paris is world renowned, and for great reason. During our stay we were able to visit places such as the Louvre museum, the Chateau of Versailles, the Louis Vuitton foundation, endless fashion exhibits (including Dior, Museum of Saint Laurent, Maison Martin Margiela and Hermes, etc.) Paris itself was everything I dreamed and more. Generally, when it comes to ‘experiencing’ Parisian culture and the city, Paris can be very costly. Despite this, Paris can still be enjoyed on a budget. There are a large array of grocery stores and local markets, and due to having a kitchenette, it is easy to cook your own meals, and the difference in price is huge. You will save a lot of money by doing this, but I still recommend doing some research and choosing some amazing spots to eat out; for the atmosphere if nothing else.

Versailles.

The Eiffel Tower.

When it came to the cultural aspects of living in Paris, I wasn’t affected too much by culture shock. As you are surrounded by friends from all over the world, you are all able to communicate on your experiences and go through the journey together. Out of respect for the country, however, it is nice to learn a few French phrases to get you by (even if it is just: ‘desole, parlez-vous anglais?’ Meaning, ‘sorry, do you speak English?’).

After partaking in the IESEG School of Management Fashion Summer Academy, I feel so inspired, motivated and refreshed to start back at QUT, and understand further the amazing career pathways that can be undertaken in my industry. Choosing to partake in the program not only made me more academically inspired, but made me so much for worldly, and confident in being associated in the international fashion industry. I cannot recommend doing this program, and going on exchange in general, enough.

My Exchange Experience In France

Rosemary, K. Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Journalism

Catholic University of Lille (Semester 2, 2016)

Enjoying a cheese picnic during Lille’s fleeting summer

Lille is a great exchange city. It is small enough that I could walk everywhere. The university is about a twenty-minute walk to the main train station and beautiful old town or there is a very reasonable and user-friendly bus. The university is close to a string of student bars that are so well attended on Thursday evenings that the police close the surrounding streets down. There are also antique markets, the famous La Braderie, streets of gourmet food shops and wonderful fresh food markets in nearby Wazemme. Lille has its own soccer team in the national league, which is fun to spectate, and there is a beautiful opera building that sells cheap tickets to students. There are shopping malls and networks of beautiful little cobbled streets lined with lovely little stores. Being on the border with Belgium means that Lille can offer the best of both countries. Belgium chocolate mixed with French pastries, Belgium fries and French cheese as well as beautiful French wines and famous Belgium beers meant I never came close to hungry.

I studied in the second semester from late August to mid-December. I was concerned about the cold but soon came to love the winter and the lead up to Christmas. Lille (and all of Europe) comes alive at Christmas with markets in the square, mulled wine and a huge Ferris wheel. I had to buy a new wardrobe and my first winter coat but that was a fun novelty in itself.

Lille is well located for travel with Europe’s excellent bus and train network. Cities such as London, Brussels and Paris are each less than two hours away. Amsterdam and Cologne in Germany are easy day trips as are beautiful Ghent, Brugge and Antwerp. Flying out of the Brussels Charleroi airport is very cheap and easy with a Flixbus connecting the airport to the Lille Flanders train station. There is also the Brussels International Airport an hour and a half away on the train. I had the opportunity to take many trips including Edinburgh, Italy, Norway, Ireland and Germany. People in the north of France have a similar reputation to the Australians living in Tasmania but they are open hearted and friendly people who are always willing to help with whatever English they know. They are proud of their country and happy to share it with foreigners, often going out of their way to find someone to translate my questions. Living in a country where you don’t speak the language well can be difficult and it is important to be easy going because things get lost in translation and getting an extra drink or meal or something slightly different to what you ordered can happen so I learnt not to be fussy.

Enjoying a day of playing inflatable games organised by the AEU

Lille is a very affordable city when you are living on an Australian wage. Groceries, rent, meals, movies and clothes were all cheaper than Australia. In fact the only expensive service was trains. I had many concerns about budgeting during my time overseas but the cost of living was so cheap and I kept an eye on my finances so I had no issues. My only qualm with Lille was the lack of decent coffee but my Melbourne friends and I discovered Coffee Makers on Paris Street early in the semester. They have the best beans in Lille and often sell delicious winter salads, curries and homemade tarts alongside their decadent Malteaser coffees.

University in France is a very different experience to university in Australia. Firstly, everybody lives on campus or near campus and nobody lives at home with their parents. I prearranged my accommodation with an organisation run by the university called the AEU. I was placed in a tiny little residence called La Maison de l’étudiant that only had seven rooms and was across the road from the university. The residence was a large apartment on the third floor of a converted French chalet complete with stained glass windows, marble floors and ornate plaster ceilings. All bills, Internet, cleaning and breakfast was included in my very reasonable rent. We also got fresh croissants delivered every week. All my housemates were French and Mauritian students studying their whole degrees in France. They were extremely friendly and welcoming, excited to practice their (very good) English and well and truly made me feel at home, caring for me when I was sick, taking me to the doctors and translating anything I needed. Living in an AEU residence also meant I could participate in their organised sports, attend French zumba, join their gym for 10 euro a month, eat at the outrageously cheap cafeteria (three euro for three courses!) and attend their welcome and Christmas parties. I also had the very unfortunate experience of being robbed and the AEU were able to help me call the police, translate a statement and find a new place to live, all of which would have been extremely difficult on my own.

University is very different to university in Australia but if you embrace change and respect the differences you will learn a lot. For starters, twelve subjects is a normal load. There are subjects offered in many different languages and structures: some are taught in blocks, some are taught weekly and some are taught every couple of weeks. Nothing is recorded and it is necessary to attend all classes, it would be naïve to think you could pass without doing so. Getting together a timetable can be a bit hectic, especially if you study across two faculties but that may be necessary in order to cobble together enough English subjects to satisfy the 30 ECTS requirement. The faculties within the university may as well be totally different: they are manned by different staff, have different rules and sometimes slightly different grading systems. I studied within the ESPOL and FLSH faculties, favouring the latter as ESPOL only started in 2012. I studied a broad range of subjects from sociology in the media to medieval history, European politics, French language and literature and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I think there is a tendency for people to not worry about their subjects and focus on their ‘exchange experience’ but I would advise choosing subjects you like because you will spend a lot of time studying. The university is well respected and France and the curriculum is heavy on rote learning and memorisation (hence why you need to attend class and take good notes) and involves less analytical processes than at QUT. It is a different type of learning, but it is still learning and I felt like I got a lot out of my time in Lille.

Exchange students at a Lille soccer game

The university has a well-established program for international students. They have dedicated staff members and orientation events, buddy programs and parties designed solely for international students. This enabled me to meet so many people from around the world. I made friends with people from Germany, Lithuania, Afghanistan, America, Ireland, Japan, France, Mauritius and even Australia to count a few. Lille is a beautiful little city but it is truly the people I met that made my experience. Sometimes living in a foreign country can be exasperating but having people to share in that exasperation makes it feel a whole lot less stressful.

Overall I had an amazing time on Exchange. I met lifelong friends from all around the world and I am very lucky to have had such an experience. Exchange is the easiest way to live in another country, as there are so many people and services set up to help you. If you are considering taking the leap I cannot encourage you more, it is an amazing opportunity.

Arts’n’Go

After last week’s introductory sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday my studies at EDHEC are now truly under way. As I mentioned previously, I am undertaking the full Master of Science in Arts and NGO Management (also referred to as Arts’n’Go by students and course co-ordinators tired of the full title) and even though I read all of the course information available to me it is only now that my studies have begun that I understand how the course actually works.

Essentially, units are either a 15 or 30 hour unit and these hours are taught intensively over a day or two of classes. Some assessment such as orals necessitate another class on a particular unit later in the semester but otherwise you may not attend another class on a particular subject until the exam block at the end of semester. This sounds a little odd to me as I am used to studying the same subjects with the same timetable for a full thirteen week semester before final exams but for the French students, it is quite standard to study ten or eleven different subjects over a semester and then have three intense days of back-to-back exams. It will be interesting to see how we all go at the end of the semester.

There are only 26 students in the Arts’n’Go major so we have all of our classes together in the same little classroom every day. Because we’re such a small group it is also possible for us to go on field trips. We have had three field trips so far, which admittedly sounds excessive since we’ve only been studying for a week and a half, but these trips were not just sightseeing. So far we have been to a museum in Roubaix where we toured the museum and were able to ask the curators how they manage the collection, spent a day at an entrepreneurship conference in Lille to attend workshops and also met the deputy mayor of culture in Lille to hear firsthand how cultural festivals are organised on a grand scale. Speaking with professionals who clearly enjoy their work is a great motivator during those long classroom hours and is also very helpful as we will soon be commencing our Masters projects.

The Masters projects involve small teams of students working with established companies or organisations in order to meet some objective. They’re not just case studies either – they’re real projects with clients, deadlines and budgets. Some of the groups will be working with fundraising committees, others will be creating cultural programs and others will be co-ordinating events. It’s both very exciting and a little daunting. I cannot say too much about the project I have been assigned to for confidentiality reasons, but I can say that I feel very lucky my client is bilingual (some clients requested only French speaking students and unfortunately my language skills aren’t quite there yet) and in the local area so arranging meetings will hopefully be a little easier.

I apologise for another post that is just a block of text – I promise that there will be pictures in my next post.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis

Like Jodie in Maastricht, I am also taking part in QUT’s new double Masters program. I have completed the first six months of my Master of Business (International Business) in Brisbane and will complete the remaining six months in semester two, 2013. In the meantime I will be undertaking a full Master of Science in Arts and NGO Management at Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales du Nord (EDHEC) in Lille, France.

There is a charming saying that travelers cry twice in the North – once when they arrive and once when they leave. I arrived in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais on August 2nd and so far no tears have been shed but I can confirm that the welcoming atmosphere portrayed in Dany Boon’s Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks) is very real.

EDHEC welcomes many international students each year and they are clearly  aware that this might be the first time some of these students have been in France (myself included). Months before arriving in Lille I was directed to a special Blackboard site for international students that included, amongst other things, a wonderfully comprehensive student guide that covers almost everything from organising accommodation to opening a bank account to purchasing tickets for the tram and tips for navigating the labyrinthine French bureaucracy. It is probably due to the existence of this guide that I have had a tear-free existence in France thus far.

Aside from its student engagement team at Open Up (they organise activities and trips for students amongst other things), EDHEC also has a buddy system for new students. My buddy and I have exchanged a couple of emails and we have tentative plans to meet for coffee during Orientation next week which is definitely something to look forward to.

It is not just the university that makes you feel welcome in the North – most of the French people I have come across so far have also been friendly and very patient as I use my limited French and expert miming ability. Lille is the second largest student city in France after Paris and there are quite a few tourists so I expect the residents are used to hearing some interesting attempts at their language. There is also a local dialect here call ch’ti – you can hear examples of it in the movie trailer above – but I am not bold enough to try it just yet, but once my French classes are under way at the university it might be a different story.

If you are also considering the double Masters program or going to France on exchange and have some questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments and I will respond. I am not sure how I will go keeping a set schedule for updates but there will definitely be a post soon with more information about my studies (I am enrolled in the eleven compulsory units for this semester as well as the optional French Business in Perspective and French language classes) once I have received my timetable and have an idea of how one can undertake so many different units in one semester.

Until then, a bientôt!

The final goodbye

Despite knowing that endings are a part of life, goodbyes are never easy.

Group assessment and final exams completed, marking the end of my life studying abroad at Grenoble ecole de Management. We finished the month in style, spending an evening together (all the students) enjoying a three-course meal, presentation of certificates and did as students do and continued our celebrations well into the night. After all, we deserved it!

Reflecting back, studying abroad taught me many lessons and was a fantastic experience. I encourage all students to study abroad at some point of their University degree. These are my reasons why:

You learn as much inside the classroom as you do outside the classroom

Inside the classroom, you learn similar course material as you would in your home country. Only difference is, studying abroad incorporates more of an international influence. The diversity of culture from your teachers and your peers allows greater discussion and depth into the subjects, giving you a greater perspective and understanding of whatever it may be that you are learning.

Outside the classroom you can learn everything from the history of the country, the culture, mannerism and the different lifestyles of those around you. Make the most of your time outside the classroom by sightseeing and experiencing as much as you can. Before you know it, you could be riding bikes everywhere, eating baguettes and cheese and feeling like a local Frenchy, as did I.

Stress Less

Firstly, you got chosen to study abroad, well done! Remember this is a fantastic oppourtunity so enjoy yourself. At times the study load can be overwhelming but with the grades not counting towards your GPA, understanding and passing the course is more then enough. The teachers and more then supportive and there to help you. If you are tired or feel it is too much, then make the teachers aware.

Enjoy!

Enjoy being out of your comfort zone. Yes, it is daunting being on your own in another part of the world but reality is, you are on your own in another part of the world so you can see, do, taste, experience what you want and when you want (be safe of course). You can create a whole new chapter of your life and share your experiences for years to come.

Also, enjoy the chance to meet and network with a whole new group of people interested in the same subjects and travel as you are. Take the time to chat with everyone from fellow students to teachers to local business owners. There is so much to learn about others and about the world. Advice: get networking.

Just remember, this is your experience so tailor it how you wish. Your home University are sending you on a study abroad program so you can learn in a new environment and by learn I mean both University material and cultural experiences. My trip to Grenoble was unforgettable. The course material for my courses: International Business, Digital Marketing and French Language and Culture, was very detailed and made to be very interesting. I was also able to create a whole new set of memories with a new group of friends from Canada, America, India, Saudi Arabia and even Australia. Overall, the trip was educational (as expected) but also allowed me to form strong friendships and networks, unforgettable memories and live an experience I never dreamed of.