Bonjour à toutes et à tous!
How time flies! I’m almost two months into my exchange to France and having the time of my life.
My travels have brought me to a little town called Troyes in the central-north area of France. Troyes is a relatively small town with approximately 60 000 inhabitants but it’s definitely not small on experiences. It has a beautiful old town centre with historic attractions such as churches and cathedrals that date back to the 16th century and the half-timbered houses that are characteristic of the town. In addition, Paris is only 1.5 hours away by train so it’s really easy to get in and see the sights of Paris as well as use the excellent French train system to see the rest of France as well.
As beautiful as the town is the real highlight of the Troyes experience is the university life and the people I’ve met here. Like the town, the University of Technology, Troyes (UTT) is a small university with only about 2500 students which means that the atmosphere is super friendly and campus life is really involved. You can’t help but run into people you know, both in your classes and just hanging around on campus, especially if you live in the on campus university residences.
The UTT has a fantastic pre-semester program for exchange students to both improve your French and help you to meet people and make friends with other exchange students. This program was honestly one of the best months of my life. During the day you have the French classes that were fun and invaluable for improving my speaking skills and after class and on the weekends, the UTT will organise sports events, dinners and trips so you can get to know the other students really easily. My second week in France was spent on a weekend trip to Paris seeing all the main sights such as the Sacré-Coeur, Notre Dame and of course the Eiffel Tower. Another trip took us around the local area which just so happens to be the beautiful Champagne region.
Let’s not forget that exchange is not six months of travelling and partying. Classes will begin and you will actually need to do some studying. My best tip is to save up those electives so you don’t have to worry about matching subjects and you can choose classes that interest you. There is a course catalogue of subjects in English but it’s a little limited, so decent French language skills are very helpful for a greater choice of subjects. If you’re thinking of coming to France I cannot recommend highly enough the UTT – they have people who look after you, help you with your paperwork (of which I’ve got to say there is A LOT!) and make sure that you settle into France without a problem.
For anyone who is thinking about going on exchange, apply now! It’s a total cliché but it’s really a once in a lifetime experience that you can’t get anytime other than at university. Any difficulties you might encounter (money, paperwork, language difficulties, culture shock, etc) pale in comparison to the good times to be had on exchange. You won’t regret it.
Caitlin Kernahan – 11985025