MITACS Chapter 4: Saying goodbye + some reflections

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

So there it goes. Just like that it’s time to say goodbye to another wonderful experience, in a wonderful place, having met some wonderful people. Although three months might not seem like such a long time, the sheer immersion of both the every-day and the extraordinary events is enough to produce a tear or two. This is especially the case when, one after the other, all your Mitacs acquaintances, turned good friends, who’s project started before yours, start saying their goodbyes. As I waved to the parting cars and taxis, it all started feeling a bit surreal. In a few days, that will be me in that car.

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MITACS Chapter 3: Remembering to have fun

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

This is the post I have been looking forward to the most! Because whether it seems like it or not, there is a lot to do in the largest city of Saskatchewan (and beyond), even if it is comparatively small by European standards. The best thing about spending the summer in Regina is that there are plenty of festivals and events to attend, and even Canadian national holidays to celebrate. Here are a few of my favourites!

Queen City Ex festival and fair
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MITACS Chapter 2: Research as work

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

Imagine. You’ve arrived at your destination in Canada, you’ve run all the tedious errands in the first days, got yourself familiar with the area, and met a few nice people. What do you do now? That’s right – work.

Not that that is a shocker; after all, it is the whole purpose of the three-month trip. But it can be a bit challenging finding your pace again, especially if you’ve had a few weeks between the start of your internship and the end of the academic year. It’s summer, beautiful weather (although slightly colder in Canada, of course) and your body and brain naturally enter into vacation mode. That’s normal. In addition, it’s not just any kind of work you’re doing. It’s research. It requires you to really think about everything you do, question your assumptions on the way, and question some more. Thankfully, at least you stay in an academic setting. So, let’s talk about what it feels like to do the actual work on a research internship.

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MITACS Chapter 1: Arrival and settling in

By: Eva Kristinova (University of Regina, Canada, Mitacs Research Internship Scheme 21-22)

For those of you who have been following my study abroad journey in France, it might be a little confusing to start reading about yet another trip without a proper closing. Two quick things on that: 1. saying goodbye is always difficult, and so I have been kind of avoiding it, even having left Toulouse behind; 2. who says it’s over?! Oh no, I am not done with France yet!

So yes, I hope that inadequate explanation provided at least some closure. Moving on…

University of Regina (south-west entrance)
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Dealing with emergencies in Toulouse

By: Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

By this point you surely realize how incredibly fun it can be to study abroad. But let’s be real, it might not always be. All the same, know that if you ever find yourself in a less welcoming, stressful, or (God forbid) emergency medical situation, there are places you can go and seek help from. Here are some insights for what to do if you find yourself in need in Toulouse.

Physical and mental health support and advice

The best place to look for support and advice related to anything to do with health is the University Medical Centre. All you need to do is call the office number, and you can be professionally assessed by a nurse directly on the phone. She usually asks you about the issue and offers advice right away, but if you deem it necessary, she can also set up an appointment with a specialist depending on your needs. This is usually quick, even the same day. The centre provides generalist medical services, but also has nutritionist, gynecology, or mental health specialists. You might think it quite daunting to pick up the phone or even talk to someone in a foreign situation, but there is no need to worry, even when it comes to the language barrier. If you don’t speak French, it’s no big deal – most specialists also speak English and/or Spanish.

Link: https://www.ut-capitole.fr/universite/gouvernance/services-administratifs-et-techniques/service-interuniversitaire-de-medecine-preventive-simpps–42796.kjsp

Medical emergencies

For most purposes, the University Medical Centre should be your go-to, however there might also be times when you find yourself in a situation requiring urgent medical care and cannot wait for an appointment, or when the issue cannot be resolved over the phone. In that case, I recommend going straight to the nearest walk-in emergency clinic (Urgences in French). These can be isolated clinics or part of larger hospitals. For such a visit, you will need to bring your identity card (usually a passport) and medical insurance card. In these situations it’s much easier if you can speak French so that the doctor can ask questions and examine you without any barriers, however, most places in big cities like Toulouse will also have professionals who speak English.

If you find that you cannot get to an emergency clinic on your own, here are the necessary emergency numbers you can call (not just medical):

112 (European number for all emergencies)

15 (Medical emergencies)

17 (Police)

18 (Fire brigade)

114 (Number for people with impaired hearing)

A note on insurance

In terms of the documents you will need in these places, thankfully, the University Medical Centre doesn’t require anything besides your student card. For walk-in emergency clinics or hospitals, you will need an identification card of some sort, whether it is a country-issued ID card (EU) or a passport. In addition, you will need an insurance card. Note that although UoM insurance covers you for some incidents, it might not cover you for everything in France. Likewise with an EU-issued insurance card from another country. To avoid paying for the clinics services, I suggest you get a carte vitale (French medical card) as soon as you arrive in France. This can be obtained on request at the local mairie if you already have an EU insurance card. Alternatively you will need to apply for it ahead of time, the same way you would for visa and social security in France, and pick it up when you arrive.

Social security: https://www.securite-sociale.fr/accueil

Carte vitale: https://www.ameli.fr/assure/remboursements/etre-bien-rembourse/carte-vitale

Needless to say, I hope you won’t need to use any of the above information, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Loire-Atlantique – castles, boats, biscuits and wine

By: Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

Recently, during our brief spring vacation, I had the opportunity to venture out of the comfort zone of the immediate Occitanie region and visit the very exotic north-west of France: Loire-Atlantique. This cozy département, sandwiched between the unique cultures of Vendée and Bretagne (which also just happen to be historical rivals), is home to a very different side of Frenchness, which is nevertheless as French as can be, perhaps even more French than our beloved Toulouse! And I’m not just talking about the cheese.

Travel agency in Nantes located at an old biscuit factory
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The call to armes – a reflection

By: Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

Hello, it’s me again. This post will be a little different from my usual content, but, I hope, interesting nevertheless. What I wish to share with you is something that has become a constant feature of my life in France, something I soon learned was simply an inevitable part of French culture, history and people. Just as a heads-up though, I do not wish to fuel any stereotypes here. This is simply something that I’ve observed, and upon discussion found that my French peers freely, even proudly admit to. So, here are a few reflections on the culture of protest in France.

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The Cafés on the Garonne

By Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

With the sun once again creeping into the lovely streets of Toulouse, it is the start of the café season! Not that these quintessential staples of French cultural life should ever complain of not being busy, since the Toulousains apparently don’t care in the least about the weather. Come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet, the show must go on! And there is always something to be seen in a French café.

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La fête de Noël (even if a little late)

By Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

Hi everyone and happy new year! I’m back with another post, this time a little past its relevant time frame, but one that I hope you will find interesting nevertheless. I am, of course, talking about the wonderful end-of-year holiday (also my personal favourite) that has become celebrated pretty much everywhere – Christmas! Or, for those who prefer to go with the French spirit of laïcité, simply the holidays (so, belatedly, Joyeuses fêtes!).

Now, even though I was lucky enough to go home for Christmas itself, I have still been able to experience and ask about the French twist to this popular time. What is Noël like?

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Academia and the university system in France

By Eva Kristinova

When you come to university in your first year you have a lot to learn about how it all works. Then, if you decide to spend a year abroad, you often have to go through that learning experience again at your host university. And because there are plenty of other things you could be (and you would probably like to be) doing instead, let me make it a bit easier for some of you. Here are four key aspects of student life and the university system in France that I learned about during my first weeks at Toulouse.

Sciences Po Toulouse
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A Guide to the French Life (on a budget)

By Eva Kristinova (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

France is full of awesome places that you can explore, food you can try and events you can attend. But living the ideal exchange experience rarely comes cheap – don’t know about you but I certainly cannot afford to buy a fresh baguette from the local bakery every single morning (yes, this stereotype about the French is actually true). Well, don’t worry, I got you 🙂 Here’s five tips for getting the most out of a stay in France, and not going broke in the process.

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Toulouse à Grande Vitesse… or not.

By Eva Kristinova, (Sciences Po Toulouse, France)

Hello everyone and welcome to my year-long study exchange journey in Toulouse! We will start off with the good news so far: I’ve arrived.

And I’m afraid that’s where it ends. To be fair I am somewhat to blame for all I’m about to tell you, but I hope that after reading this, you will admit that no amount of extra preparation could have helped. So let’s dive into my voyage from Brussels to Toulouse… oh, did I mention it was all by train? Well, now you know (and those of you familiar with the French TGV probably guessed as much from the title).

Destination: Toulouse train station
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