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When people hear about Paris, different thoughts come to mind. For some, it might be the city of their dreams where they want to travel one day. For some it might be a romantic city, whereas, for others, it might just be a big city with too many tourists and overhyped places. However, for me, Paris is a place that holds a special memory. That is because I recently completed an exchange program at one of APU's partner universities in Paris, France.
One of the things that I liked about APU when I was applying was that it gives students the freedom to choose from a long list of universities from around the world. So, I took advantage of this opportunity and decided to go on exchange for a semester. To be honest, I was indecisive and afraid to take this step. Nonetheless, I trusted my instinct and reminded myself that I must seize this opportunity, and who knows, this might be the best decision I ever made. In this article, I will be sharing about my experience of living and studying in Paris, interesting things about the classes I took in my host university, and my overall experience and some tips to students interested in going on exchange.
I applied to the ESSCA School of Management. ESSCA is accredited by prestigious organizations, including AMBA, AACSB, and EQUIS. They had their campuses situated in different parts of France as well as other countries. I chose to study at the Paris campus. One of the reasons is the city itself. I wanted to experience what it was like to study and live in a big city. The requirements to apply for exchange depended on the host universities and their distinguished GPA and IELTS/TOEFL requirements. After being selected by APU and later by the host university, I started my visa application process for which I firstly applied online through Campus France which is the platform that Embassy of France uses for visa application and then I went to Embassy of France in Tokyo to submit required documents and biometric.
Finally after getting my visa and doing all the preparations, I was ready to embark on this journey. I was filled with mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness when I went to begin my semester in Paris in September 2022. I stayed for a total of four months. Four full months of gradual changes of emotion. I was awestruck and in disbelief in the first month when I saw the beautiful city and could not believe I was actually in Paris. I spent the first month exploring the city alone, as I was still struggling to make friends and figure out the subway system. But that did not hold me back from going around the city. I enjoyed it quite a lot. I went to all the famous tourist destinations, saw the Eiffel Tower for the very first time, went to famous museums, which were unbelievably beautiful, and ticked out quite a lot of places that were on my list. Also, the weather was perfect at that time. It was not too hot or too cold. I could still see the sun during the day, and even though I experienced the uncertain rain every once in a while, it did not bother me so much. I took full advantage of the lovely weather and went out to explore every single day because I knew bad weather was on the way as winter was starting to hit soon.
I used to have one to two classes a day. All the classes were taught in English except for French. The classes were structured with a mix of French students and a few exchange students. All the classes had a lot of group work, so I got the chance to interact with French students as well, and they were friendly and fun. Talking about the classes, one of the ones I took was engrossing. The course was called luxury marketing, and we were taught about the marketing of different luxury and fashion brands. We were taken to fashion museums, exhibitions, and luxury store visits because we were in one of the most luxurious fashion cities. It was engrossing to learn so much about luxury brands through all the visits. I also studied French which was extremely difficult for me. It was my first time learning French and I struggled a lot in that class, but my French professor tried her best to help us learn the language.
As time went by, I made friends with other exchange students, and our bond kept on growing. I never expected to meet such genuine, kind, and fun-loving people. Even though we all were from not only different countries but different continents, with different cultures and communication styles, we all hit it off really well and understood each other’s sense of humor. There was never a dull day when I used to hang out with them. We went to explore several places in Paris and went out to eat food from each other’s countries. It was one of the fun activities that we did to learn about each other’s cultures and spend time together. We also went to Disneyland together, which turned out to be the most fun experience ever.
My overall student exchange experience was amazing. There were days when I felt extremely lonely and homesick, but there were also moments when I was truly happy from the inside. One thing that remained constant was my gratitude to have this opportunity to be where I was. I made the kindest and truest friends of my life, made memories that I will never forget, and experienced studying in Paris.
Finally, I would like to give a few tips for anyone interested in going on an exchange. Depending on the person and what kind of experience you are looking for, I would say to choose not only the university carefully but also the country and the city you are going to as well. Find a university that is a good fit for your interests and the subject you want to study. Be open to everything and mentally prepared to face any obstacle that may come your way. This experience will teach you to be self-sufficient, and open, and to solve problems as they arise. This exchange experience has helped me see things with a new perspective. It has given me courage to take bold decisions and take steps out of my comfort zone.
As an APU student who returned from exchange, I realized that I should take advantage of the multicultural environment APU has and make more international friends, build connections, and be proactive.
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Hi, I'm Lisa from Nepal. I am a 4th year student in the spring semester in 2023. I like reading novels, arts, DIY, traveling, and experiencing new things. I am looking forward to learning valuable insights from my time in SPA.