You might remember being in high school, doing your HSC exams and the small eternities that stretch between the teacher calling “one minute left!” and the timer going off. That’s what exchange feels like; a weird mix of stress and excitement, and having no time and too much time all at once. Or maybe that’s just me, and I ascribe too much sentimentalism to the HSC exams that led me here to Nantes, France.
Some information first: My name is Theadora, I turned twenty during my second week of study here, I study a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS, and am studying Brand Design (a much shorter name) in Nantes.
There’s something special about France, that makes everything seem cute; from their Woolies equivalent (Intermarche) to the teeny houses with matching roofs, from the statues hidden around every corner to the sheep outside my university. I had the benefit of already knowing this adorable-ness before it came to choosing my university for exchange, given that I had visited Paris and completely adored it. But, of course, everything about France feels different outside of Paris. Nantes is, quite proudly, the sixth biggest city in France. It is maybe a quarter of the size of Sydney, but somehow feels almost as big. As a sidenote, it is insane how cheap inter-country transport is here. It’d probably cost you 30 euro and three hours to get driven to another country. How crazy is that?
I’ve been in Nantes (pronounced “Nont”) for about six weeks now, and have been away from our dusty, red soil planes for two months. The rooms at Chanzy student accommodation in Nantes are pretty darn tiny, and it is sometimes very odd to see your life piled into a 2 by 9 room, a French press stacked on top of my almost empty box of Weet-Bix. The balloons my classmates inflated for my surprise birthday party take up a good third of my desk. These rooms, as small as they may be, are perfectly located to explore Nantes, and to be home to some of the most fun people I have ever met. I truly hope that you can have a group of fellow exchange students as marvellous as mine are.
University at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique runs differently to what you’re probably used to. The course name Brand Design is a bit of misnomer. Out of the twelve subjects I am studying here, equalling just over a 24 CP course back home, four subjects are those that I might find usually have. Mixed into the rest are subjects more usually paired with Fine Arts, Architecture, Language, Product Design and Anthropology degrees. It’s a pretty jumbled mix but, just like back home, you’ll love some of your subjects, and probably hate some of them too. Those are the breaks with university though.
I’ll leave you with this final statement: Learn the language before you go on exchange, do it with something better than Duolingo and never ever start a conversation with a French person with English. They will hate it and also you. At least start with Bonjour, it’s not that hard.
See more pictures and travels over on my instagram: @fancy.nantes
Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication/Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation – DAB
L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique