Like every other entry on this blog has said, I’m going cut to the chase – if you’re thinking about doing exchange do it.
I am currently studying at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux which is located in the south west of France. The population of the city is just under 250,000 but there are over 10 universities and tertiary educational institutes so there is definitely a young vibe to the city. The city could be described as your stereotypical French city where you notoriously known for its quality wines and wineries.
As KEDGE is a grande école, the way of teaching and the way the school functions is extremely flexible. For example, instead of completing 4 subjects for the full semester, there are 8 cycles of 4 weeks during the year. In these cycles are the courses that are 30 hours each (45 if you do a french language course) and you can do a maximum of 2 subjects. During these 4 weeks you can have up to 3 teachers for one course and, for a reason that not one person can explain, the classrooms change every day and every weeks timetable varies which can be quite confusing at first when you are swapping from one side of campus to the other for the same class over a 4 week period. To make matters a little bit more different, the third week of every cycle you have a “study” break, thats right, every 4 weeks you have a holiday which is perfect for exchange students. So far I have been able to visit Paris, London, Hogwarts, Oxford, Bath, Dublin, Belfast, Lisbon, Arcachon, Toulouse, Lisbon, Geneva and Rome. I am actually writing this on the train from Rome to Milan. (send help – no wifi for 6 hours)
International Weekend Trip to Arcachon to a “beach”
Even when I am at school, there is an emphasis on the social life rather than studies. This hit me from week one where for the last 3 months we had the campaigns for the student offices. Back at home, I don’t hear about the student campaigns until about one week before the elections and most students spend time running away from desperate people with pamphlets or iPads that get chucked on the floor straight away. (Sorry if you’re one of these people but you already know everyone hates you) . The student campaigners at KEDGE pay around 350 euros to be a part of the teams and for 3 months they do whatever to get peoples vote. This includes dancing in the hallway for your entertainment (French people can’t dance), giving out free pastries for breakfast, offer to clean your apartments and if you give them the money they will go and buy anything (and I mean anything) for you definitely if its a difficult item to find. Although this might make it sound like a continuous frat party, you are able to study some pretty interesting specialist subjects with some of the leading industry professionals, for example, I am currently completing a subject called wine marketing where, in the interest of our education, we went to Chateau Bouscaut, one of the most prestigious wineries in the world, to see how they produce the wine and of course to taste it.
Studying hard at Chateau Bouscaut
In spite of all the travelling I have done, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the Bordelaise culture and way of living. This includes the sunday morning markets where there is a store that gives away broken macaroons for free, the 90 cents fresh pain au chocolats from the school cafeteria and even the late night 2 euro runs for ingenious kebabs where they put the fries inside the way home from a night out. I have even had the chance to go to an alternative ballet performance at the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux.
Only a quarter of the cheese you can purchase from the weekly Sunday markets
In all seriousness, doing an exchange has probably been the best decision I have ever made and I can narely remember the anxiety and regret I felt when I got on an airplane by myself to go live in a country that is notoriously known for disliking foreigners (only half true).