Studying in Europe – France

Université de Perpignan

“Without hesitation it was one of the best experiences of my life”

I was lucky enough to spend a semester studying French and Spanish at the Université de Perpignan Via Domita, having already spent months as a language assistant in Spain in 2009-10. Upon arrival, I was struck by the heat and surrounding beauty of my new southern French home but also by the relaxed attitude towards the start of a new semester!

Observing my peers – a fantastic plurality of cultures – I embraced this attitude of the university and town and threw myself into my new life. Despite the laid-back Mediterranean routine, I discovered a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere within the student population and to be found in various parts of Perpignan – a result of the great diversity of cultures and the shared desire to meet new people, experience the unique mode de vie and make the most of every opportunity .

Courses varied from the challenging to the informal, and French students opened up to the invasion of Erasmus students with open arms! Perpignan itself combined pretty, tree-lined streets, historical buildings and typical French cafés. Knowing the right places to go, the lively student population knew how to enjoy themselves with the nightlife the town offered and there was always enthusiasm to venture further afield, whether to experience breath-taking scenery of the surrounding Pyrenees, pop over to Spain for a few hours or make the most of the one euro train around the region.

It is hard to pinpoint what I enjoyed most about my time there but I can say without hesitation that it was one of the best experiences of my life and both the culture and the people I met have touched me and will stay with me forever.

Hannah (Modern Languages)

Université de Paris IV Sorbonne

I spent my year abroad in Paris at the Sorbonne. There was a timetable of challenging and yet stimulating classes, in which the teaching was both interesting and varied. Whilst at times it could be difficult to keep up with the other French students, this got easier during the course of the time I was there. What I undoubtedly enjoyed most about the year abroad was meeting other international students, getting to know them, and progressively improving our standards of French together.

One of the most salient benefits for the future, I believe, is the network of contacts that you end up establishing all over the world, and the easy way in which living in a foreign country allows you to relate to the inhabitants of that country.

Hannah (Modern Languages)

Institut D’études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)

The opportunity of going on a year abroad was one factor that had attracted me to St Andrews from the start. Considering that it would be integrated into my degree I felt it was an excellent chance to take full advantage of its four-year structure. Having looked at the many possible institutions I chose to apply for an exchange to Sciences Po due to its reputation and legacy, along with the fact that it was located in Paris! Having completed my year I can definitely say this was a decision I never regretted.

Academically, Sciences Po was different from St Andrews both in approach and structure. Being able to compare the two not only broadened my understanding, but also allowed me to discern where each could learn from the other. While it by no means was laid back in terms of workload it was an extremely interesting and motivating year, out of which I have benefited greatly in my academic understanding.

However, the other great aspect of going on an exchange is the people you meet. An exchange year gives you the chance to meet a whole new set of people and in my case profit off all that Paris has to offer. Socially it was a fantastic year meeting great people from around the world. I would strongly recommend a year abroad as it is an excellent way to increase your academic depth by experiencing a different university system, while having a great time meeting new people and experiencing new places.

Jens (International Relations & History)

Prior to coming to St Andrews, I already knew that I wanted to study abroad for a semester or a year. When I started to thoroughly look at the options available I realised that I was most attracted to Sciences Po. Situated in Paris, it offered a completely different academic and social experience to St Andrews.

Studying at Sciences Po, and thus in Paris, was an incredibly energising experience, both academically and socially. I enjoyed adapting to a completely different learning environment, one in which there was more of an emphasis on presentations and debate, versus exams and essays.

However, what stands out most in my memory from my semester in Paris, are the incredible friends I made there. Considering that Sciences Po is a renowned social sciences university, there was an abundance of extraordinary people to discuss politics, life, and food with! Without hesitation I recommend going on exchange as it allows you to experience new places, meet great people, learn with a different perspective, and get to know yourself better.

Saskia (International Relations)

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