Going on exchange has been one of the best decision I've ever made. Well, actually, one of the two best decisions I've ever made.
The first time I went on exchange was after high school. I traveled from my home in the Dominican Republic, an island in the Caribbean, to Germany looking to expand my horizons, learn new languages, as well as finding university opportunities. What amazed me the most is that I got to accomplish all of that and even more than I could expect or dream about.
But once the program was over, it was time to get back to work, which involved starting my major in finance at SP Jain School of Global Management. To my surprise, the university also offered us the possibility of doing a semester as exchange student in a fourth country. And after my first successful experience, I did not hesitate to try it again.
This time around it was France!
The exchange experience doesn't really start when you step into a new country, but rather the instant you decide to go for it. The application process can be somewhat hectic and even stressful. You must first ensure you have all the requirements and qualifications for SP Jain (you must have a 3.0 GPA and show adaptability during your first year). Then you must complete the forms required by the host university, apply for a visa, look for an apartment (or student residence) and, of course, gather information and a bit of background about the culture you will be soon part of. It can be a long process, but if you are well informed about what to do, it will go very smoothly.
France is an amazing country, filled with cities that all have something different and special. I was in a very peculiar city in the north called Lille. It is only 30 minutes from Brussels by train and 45 minutes from Paris. The city is considered a "student city", thus it was very alive and full of young people -- which means that you are constantly involved in many events and activities.
IESEG Business School, like S P Jain, was a business school. Classes were naturally in English. You will find classmates and professors from different parts of the world as well So, it's not difficult to adapt to the program and to the system.
During my stay I had the opportunity to go to Paris and eat macarons at the top of the Eiffel Tower, walk through the Hall of Mirrors at the majestic palace of Versailles, got lost in the Louvre, eat boeuf tartare and drink red wine in "La Côte Sud de la France," namely Nice, Marseille, Montpellier and Toulouse. And I went many other places. The experience is just priceless! And if you want explore outside France, Ryanair will become your best friend. Fares to Milan or Hamburg are less than 10 euros.
When it comes to adapting to the culture, it will depend on you to make of it something amazing. You will have to learn some French eventually, as not so many people will speak English. That being said, I had many experiences where my peers would make an effort to speak to me in any language we might have in common.
The best part of going on exchange in Europe is the ease of moving around and traveling. And for someone like me, who loves to travel, try new dishes, and meet new faces, traveling was definitely my favorite part of the exchange experience.
~Franchesca, BBA15, Dominican Republic