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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Having now arrived home from studying abroad for the last year at Arizona State University in America, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months and even give some tips to anyone looking to study abroad in the future.
In terms of tips that I could recommend, perhaps one of the most important ones would be to make sure that you sort out your housing out as soon as you know where you are going if possible. I stayed in my first-choice housing on campus and it was really good, and allowed me to get as much as possible from the study abroad experience both academically and personally. Another important tip would be to make friends with locals and fellow international students, having a mix is important as the local students will help immerse you in their culture, while often fellow international students are more inclined to travel in the host country as like you they want to make the most of the experience. I would make sure that you have a Skype account or another way to contact friends and family back home when you are missing them, and finally don’t worry too much about whether you will be able to make friends when you get there. Everyone once they arrive is in the same situation and will be just as eager as you to get to know people as quickly as possible.
Looking back over the last 12 months, the first thing that strikes me is how fast the last year has gone. It only feels like yesterday that I was travelling down to Heathrow for my flight, and especially in the final few weeks which feel like a blur as I was juggling packing my room away with my final exams. Despite this however I feel like I have done an incredible amount, and I would recommend studying abroad to anyone as it has been one of the best experiences that I have ever had. Because my flat mates were all American, as well as most of my classmates I had the chance to totally immerse myself in a different culture which was lucky because that was one of the reasons why I chose to study abroad in the first place. One of the real positives of my study abroad experience was the chance to try new subjects which I don’t have access to back at Manchester. One of these was Anthropology, which was a subject which I was always interested in but never had the chance to study until now. This was one of the more unexpected positives of my study abroad experience, however a more predictable one was the fact that studying abroad gave me the chance to travel across America more than I could have even predicted. Studying abroad has allowed me to see new places and ways of life that are so different to back in UK, and it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.