I’m Joe, a fourth year Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Arts student at Monash University. I have just commenced my exchange to ESSEC Business School in the Paris area of France.
I applied to go on exchange as I saw it as a unique opportunity to live in a foreign city, study at another institution and gain new experiences, all while receiving credit towards my studies back home.
I chose to apply to ESSEC Business School for a few reasons. Firstly, I knew I wanted to go to Europe as I was really attracted to the mix of cultures (and food!) so close to one and other. Secondly, I wanted to go to a country that spoke a foreign language, so I could push myself outside of my comfort zone.
France, and especially Paris, has so much rich culture - its history, food and wine made the decision to travel there a relatively easy one! After doing some research, I found that ESSEC Business School is very well known in France, particularly for being at the forefront of innovative educational practices, which is what I was really drawn to.
Life at ESSEC
Although I’m only two weeks into classes, studying overseas has been a vastly different experience to studying in Melbourne. ESSEC is a Grande École, meaning that it is outside of the main French University system and somewhat more difficult for French students to be granted admission to. As a result, there are only about 300 students all up, which means that there are lots of familiar faces in the hallways!
There are no lectures or tutorials at ESSEC, just a 3 hour class per subject once a week. There’s certainly a focus on applying theory in these sessions and we’re given lots of case studies to work on in each class. It’s also a lot stricter over here than back home. You can’t be late to class and quite often computers and phones aren’t allowed! A positive of this is that everyone is forced to pay attention.
Although classes are in English, the fact that I don’t speak a word of French has certainly been the biggest obstacle to overcome in day-to-day life here. Luckily, I’ve started taking French language classes, so I’m hoping this should help out.
There are so many amazing things to do and see in Paris. A highlight so far was spending some time at the palace and gardens of Versailles. Some friends and I spent the day roaming the gardens, renting a rowing boat in the sun and finding our own little place to have a picnic.
Preparing for the future
Going on exchange offers a great opportunity to improve future goals and career outcomes. For me, I also think that it demonstrates the capacity to push myself outside of my comfort zone and broaden my horizons.
Since being here, I’ve befriended so many people from around the world, and in doing so am learning about the vast cultural differences between us. Another great thing about going on exchange is that I am able join the alumni community of another university. I am also developing a global network of individuals and I think that will be extremely beneficial in the future.
Next week I’m starting a French Civilisation course, which I’m most excited about as it will involve two excursions for wine and cheese tasting! Don’t forget to follow the Monash Business School Instagram (@monashbusiness) to stay updated!