The thing about France is that it throws you into the deep end. In Amsterdam they speak perfect English, in Berlin all university students are close to fluent English speakers, in Dublin there is no language barrier at all but in France… in France they can say “yes.” While a lot of the students in this country speak English amongst the older generations English speaking is certainly not so common. I know what you’re thinking, “Olivia…what did you expect?” and to answer you: I certainly did not expect to spontaneously combust after trying to pay my rent for the 1st month entirely in French, but that just about happened.
Reims is a small town, and by small I mean you can get everywhere by bike. Its grey. The pavements, the buildings, the sky. The small amount of trees in this city are all scraggly and dead-looking. At a glance Reims is kind of…ugly. But that’s only on first appearances. On second appearances, Reims is still ugly, but it also kind of rocks it. The paint on almost all of the buildings is peeled so much that you can’t tell if its meant to be a raw brick house or a painted one and the student housing blocks kind of resemble… I’d say prison but I don’t think starry-eyed, exchange-hungry students are ready to hear something like that. So…They’re extremely ugly, yep, let’s go with that.
The point I’m trying to make here is that exchange should never be about the location. Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking “I may actually die if I don’t get accepted into my first exchange preference” but, spoiler alert: you won’t. While SciencesPo Reims was certainly my first choice, Reims, as a city, is the furthest thing from a lively, metropolitan town bursting with good-looking people and the best clubs and restaurants. But guess what? I’m lovin’ it. It’s just become spring and all of the students are lying in the sun like they’ve never seen it before. The brasserie across the road from university has rockin’ beer & there’s at least 4 different house parties to choose from on the weekend. Open mic nights are regularly hosted by the students, where I can hear Lithuanians sing and watch african students slay at percussion & my Italian friends make the best damn focaccia I’ve ever eaten. As Hannah Montana once said, “life’s what you make it” and a truer phrase could not be said about exchange. So ditch the expectations and (Shia LaBeouf voice) “just do it.”
(side note: SciencesPo is an amazing university & I’m very glad UTS has an exchange agreement with them)
Student number: 12601757
UTS Course Name: Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) & Bachelor of Creative Intelligence & Innovation
Exchange Partner University: SciencesPo Campus de Reims