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INSEEC Business School (France)

Study Abroad Testimonial - Brittanie

When I first read about the CQU Outbound Mobility Program, I thought of it quite like a fantasy. It seemed too good to be true to be able to go and live and study abroad for a semester or a year, anywhere I wanted. After doing some research and seeing the funding opportunities available (scholarships, OS-HELP loans), I applied, with my first preference being France. There were a number of institutes I could choose from in France, but needing an English taught school I was to choose from two cities and I am glad I chose Lyon. Studying in France was an easy decision for me after I visited France on a short holiday in 2012. I knew I was interested in the culture and learning French, not to mention the amazing food, wine and travel opportunities surrounding.

Name: Brittanie Dreghorn
Program of study at CQUni: Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
Host Institution & Country: ECE Lyon, France
Period & Year of Exchange: Spring Semester, 2013

Where

I spent a CQUniversity exchange semester abroad at a private business college in France, ECE Lyon. It was really an amazing experience to be able to study in a foreign country, to witness another culture from so many different perspectives. I was able to achieve an understanding of how important Marketing (my CQU major) is, not only in France but also in Europe as a whole. It was very educational being able to see the differences in the way Australian society perceives marketing compared to the French. This was an ongoing learning experience outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, I was extremely impressed by the lectures and learning material. Our class was quite small with less than 50 international students, which gave us the chance to interact one on one with our lecturers daily. I got to know all of my lecturers personally which in turn helped me to gain an understanding of all the subjects I was studying. The semester was completely hands-on with no textbooks needed. The lecturers would involve us in real world scenarios and we were assessed throughout the semester. This was a new experience for me, all in class learning and no textbooks, but I found this very beneficial, as the classes were so interesting. The classes were assessed differently with some exams, some individual assignments and some group assignments.

Accommodation

There were a number of accommodation options for my stay in Lyon. I started with renting a student apartment, which a lot of local and international students do in France. After 3 months I moved into a share house in order to help learn French by being surrounded by other French-speaking people. I lived in a house with a femme agée (older lady) who didn't speak English, a French boy around my age and a Japanese lady. This proved very helpful and I went on living here for the remainder for my exchange period. I did my shopping at the local fresh produce markets, which were very cheap and a great chance to practice French. I often cooked for myself but it is very cheap to eat out as well.

Budget

Before I left for France, I saved some money and paid for the things I could in advance, flights, study materials etc. I also applied for a scholarship and an OS-HELP loan. I made a budget for this money to last me for the period of the exchange and my time there, being six months. After rent I divided the leftover money as a weekly allowance.  France was less expensive than I expected, however it is difficult to sustain a budget when there is no incoming money and just expenses. However, it was sufficient for the period and a lot of other international students were also on a tight budget so it did not disadvantage me.

Life Outside of Classes

Lyon has really great public transport. There are metros to take you practically everywhere that comes every couple of minutes from 5am – 1am every day. There were also buses to get around the city. I was lucky enough to live quite close to the school in my second accommodation situation so could walk each day. This was very safe and a really pleasant walk (except when the temperature was below zero!). On the weekends I often spent time with my friends and sometimes travelled to nearby cities. During the time I was in France I also travelled to a number of other countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia and Spain.

Cultural Aspects

The social life in Lyon was fantastic. There were a lot of international students living there and in the same situation as myself, not knowing many people, so everyone was really friendly and outgoing. After a week or two with my class I had made a lot of new friends. I also went to some language exchange events when I arrived to practice French and to meet people and I met a few friends through that as well. This was an event where we ate cheese, drank wine and conversed with the locals. The culture is very different but not so much that you would feel uncomfortable. People are all still very friendly and it's very interesting to see another way of life.

Highlights

It was really amazing to be able to learn completely through the lecturers without textbooks. The lecturers would use stories and real life situations to explain theories and practices, which was a great learning experience for me. I found that I was a lot more interested in the content and did really well in all my assessments. It also helped that I could dedicate all my time to my studies during the semester, not having the usual demands or distractions that would be if I were at home. Being able to learn and speak French was a huge highlight as well. I never thought when I arrived that I would be conversing with everyone and anyone but before I knew it I was speaking French in my sleep, literally!

Tips of the Trade

If you are interested in going to Lyon to study, consider learning some French before you go. Just learn the basics, enough to get around and ask for directions etc. Have an open mind and be ready to meet a lot of new people. Also, general organisational skills are important when studying abroad, as you have to adapt to a new schedule and way of life.

How have you Changed?

Learning French was a huge accomplishment for me. Although I am not fluent, I have enough knowledge in the language to be able to continue studying here at a higher level. Being out of my comfort zone pushed me to interact with people and in situations which I am not used to. I really believe this has helped me grow and learn. I met so many people I will stay friends with forever and have learnt so much about many cultures (not only French), as I studied with many international students. I learnt to be culturally sensitive not only in study or business situations but general personal encounters. We learnt a lot about different cultures in our classes but this was also observable in the mixture of nationalities in our classroom.