Exchange semester in Paris

Dear future generations of exchange students,

Here is the report from my exchange semester in Paris our university asked me to write. I hope you will find the following information interesting and helpful. I wish you good luck and if you need any help or you have any question I am always here for you!

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1. Free time

Extracurricular activities

There is a wide choice of sport activities offered by Sciences Po, I took yoga classes and doesn’t regret. You have to join sport club and pay them a fee for joining, plus a fee for the class, but overall it is cheaper than going to the club outside the university

Parties

I didn’t attend any parties organized by the host university, but several times I went out with my friends. We’ve been to l’Arc, 79 and VIP Room clubs, I liked them very much!

Sightseeing

I found the following museums and exhibitions interesting:

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P.S. You can visit many museums for free if you are EU citizen and under 26 years old.

Other places worth seeing and visiting: Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg gardens, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Bois de Boulogne, Arc de Triomphe, Eglise du Sacre Coeur, Obelisque, Grand Opera.

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2. Exchange students 

I was mostly communicating with exchange students, because they are the ones who are studying in Sciences Po in English.

3. Local culture

IMG_8111Cultural shock

I don’t remember, but I think that nothing has surprised me, because it wasn’t my first time in Paris. Maybe what is unusual is that people who work in shops are very polite, even if it is a cashier in a grocery store, she will always say to you “Bonjour” when you enter the shop and “Au revoir” when you leave. In terms of French culture, it wasn’t difficult to fit in, I think it is not much different from the one I used to.IMG_7810

Language

It is not compulsory to know French very well if you leave in Paris, a lot of people speak English and I have never been in a situation when I asked something and people didn’t understand me. But of course, it is preferable to know French at least on a basic level; it would be easier in shops and cafes.Attitude to foreigners

Overall, French people are very friendly and if you ask they are always willing to help.

Climate

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It was very hot in September, up to +30 C and I was wearing summer clothes. October and November were also much warmer than in Latvia. In is December now and the temperature is still way above the 0 C.

Recently I’ve caught myself on a thought that I miss snow and cold temperature, as despite the fact that all the streets and shops are already decorated with Christmas lights, because of the temperature I still don’t have any “Christmas mood”.

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4. Overall suggestions 

In addition to all places mentioned in I. Part, I suggest visiting local cafes, there are many beautiful ones around Saint-Germain, a lot of good restaurants are located in Marais. After all, Paris is incredible city, you will never be bored even if just walk around the streets. And finally, here are some apps that I found useful and which made my life easier:

  • RATP – if helps you to get directions, it calculates the ideal way. Thanks to this app I started to used buses instead of metro; I had no problems with a metro and sometimes it is faster to get from one point to another using it, but when you go on the bus you can see the city. Also, usually when there is no direct metro line it means that there is a direct bus line.
  • Uber – it is an alternative to the taxi, it is cheaper and more convenient. You don’t have to call and don’t have to catch the taxi on a street, this app will do everything for you.

Once again good luck to everyone who is going to spend time in Paris. I hope you will enjoy this city as much as I did. And thank you all my friends and family who made this time spent in Paris unforgettable!

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