I remember the exact moment I found out I’d been accepted for Exchange. I remember feeling elated, anxious and everything in between.
Exchange was something I had dreamed about since my first day of orientation at UTS, but also something I never thought I’d actually have the privilege of experiencing. It was a dream I shared with my best friend, and something that we spoke loosely of for about three years. The experience would be amazing, but how could we put our life on hold for six months?
It’s not as impossible or even as sacrificial as it may seem.
I’ll never forget my first night in Reims. The sheer excitement of being in a foreign country, the delicious anticipation of the unknown and the unbridled joy of being there with my best friend. We had no idea what to expect but I think that’s best advice I can give to anyone considering exchange: don’t let expectation cloud your experience.
The first week of class comprised a series of orientation tutorials and seminars which introduced us to the ‘Sciences Po methodology’. The French adopt a distinct approach to education, to which they tightly cling. They know what they expect and this was made quite clear during this first week. However, Sciences Po has quite an impressive international reach so it was comforting to find that our classes would be mostly comprised of exchange students who were also learning to adapt.
In light of this, there is definitely a strong international culture at Sciences Po. The subjects all find their roots in political science, and the breadth of international opinion creates a unique forum for us to learn and bounce ideas off our peers. With voices from the US, New Zealand and all over Europe, the diversity of opinion certainly fosters a layered and textured understanding reflecting political views and ideologies from all over the globe. It feels like learning from the world instead of about the world (and coincidentally means I now have friends from all over the place).
Coming from a university as contemporary as UTS, the circa seventeenth-century Sciences Po campus certainly never gets old. Heritage buildings, winding staircases, stained glass windows, made even more impressive when dusted with a fresh layer of snow! This grandeur continues into the historic streets of Reims – it’s such a treat wandering past 13th century Cathedrals on your way to do the groceries. That being said, it didn’t take long for Reims to feel like home. It holds the comfort and warmth of a small town, but there’s still so much exploring and adventure to be found in the area and surrounding regions. Plus, it’s only a short bus or trains trip from Paris! For me, it’s been the perfect mix of country and city life.
But of course, everything in Europe is a bus, train or plane ride away. Every weekend is an opportunity for international travel, which simply adds to the global lens espoused by exchange at Sciences Po!
Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing)
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au