student opinions about their experience abroad

Tuesday 6 May 2014
by  G. West

The article below is based mostly on interviews with various people who studied abroad or in France and their advice to you.

Mr. West: An American who grew up in the U.S. and lived in France from age 26 on: There is no one answer to the question of why you might want to study abroad.

*The cultural experience of living and studying abroad can be extremely enriching, help the student see the world from a new perspective, grow up, develop ability to assert him or herself, find the real direction he or she wants to take.

*The social life on British and American campuses is incomparably richer than what one finds in France.

*Academic relations between students and teachers vary from campus to campus, but in general are much more personal (smaller classes, including seminars with only 3 or 4 students) in Anglo-Saxon countries than in France, with much greater follow-up, access and possibilities for communication, counseling and assistance. (Please see U.K. section article on "classes.") All chauvinism aside, the quality of instruction, libraries, and equipment is usually far superior to what one finds in the majority of French universities. The approach to research develops individual autonomy and responsibility far more than the French system.

*To get ahead in certain international careers, particularly those involving mastery of English in a technical, scientific or business field, study abroad is advisable. Rightly or wrongly, diplomas from French institutions will not have the same seductive power or clout in locating jobs in these sectors as diplomas from the higher ranked institutions in the U.K. or the U.S. In the U.S., the diplomas generally are awarded after successfully completing a 4 year program: Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA), though some degrees may be five years (pharmacy, sometimes engineering) or require post graduate school (law, medicine...) In the U.K. there are three and four year programs. The most common diplomas are a BSc, a BA, a BEng, an LLB.

On the other hand, some foreign diplomas are not recognized in France, particularly for government and administrative jobs. Doctors trained abroad are paid less than French educated doctors. Admission into chemistry sections is difficult for students from France because chemistry in Britain is a full A level subject on its own, not just part of the Physics program.

Opinions of students who went abroad

In this section you can read what students think of the choice they made to go abroad and learn a bit about their university experience. I have not changed the dates so you can measure how recent the comments are.

Olga at the University of Manchester

1) I am studying on a BA (Hons) German and Russian programme (4 years), at the University of Manchester.

2) My one-way ticket to Britain cost me 120€, and in addition to that I had 3 or 4 parcels sent to me with my clothes, books and pans (I was dissatisfied with English aliminium pans).

3) My tuition fees are £3,070 p.a., and they are paid for by the Students Loans Company. If you need to contact the SLC, do so by phone, because they have several post addresses for different purposes and it’s a bit complicated. They have a website on which their numbers can be found: www.studentfinancedirect.co.uk . By phone you get the answer straight away and can ask for details, I prefer that. The form for a loan should be sent as soon as possible, though send it way before their year at uni starts (I sent it in September 2007 and the payment was delayed because of that) I think the SLC send a form as soon as the applicant gets an offer; I received mine in spring, so there should be plenty of time to fill it in and send it.

4) My rent in a University-owned hall of residence is around £2,850 a year (4285€). Being in a self-catered hall, I have to buy my own food, which costs me from £30 to sometimes £50 a week (45€ - 75€). My term-time bus ticket (Sept. - June) cost me £142 (213€). The launderette costs £2 for using a washing machine, and £1 for the dryer (an accident taught me to read the labels on clothes). Students also need to consider other expenses linked with the nature of their studies. These include a printing account and photocopies (except if you have a personal printer in your room), books (and possibly library fines). I’ve bought only 2 books for my German course and a dictionary (which cost £35) and I’ve always borrowed all I needed from the library, as we had to read several books a week for Anthropology. If you don’t wait till the last moment to do your readings, to borrow books or make photocopies, it is no problem. Anyway, when you see the prices in UK bookshops, it puts you off buying anything there. If you need to buy books, check out the internet.

5) I haven’t had any major problems, apart from the fact that I applied for my loan in September and I had to pay for the 1st third of my yearly fees, as my application hadnt gone through yet. International students mustn’t forget to open a UK bank account in pounds sterling. On the whole, I found that the administration was fairly well organised to deal with the mass arrival of freshers. I have only positive things to say about that, which brings me to the next question.

6) As I was saying, various secretaries and subject administrators have always been easily accessible, ready to help and to have a nice chat if you have any problems. The Student Services Centre is also very helpful, they can help students with any problem they have or recommend them to other people. We have few lecture hours but quite a lot of personal study implied. I also appreciate having seminars of 6-10 people where you can really discuss the topics. A significant difference between UK and French approach to education is that here we must state our argument clearly in our essay, and say that it is our approach to the question. This must appear clearly, because of the threat of plagiarism. Another good thing is the multitude of societies available. I joined the International Society, which is one of the best in my opinion. They offer not only a variety of social events based on different cultures, but also trips throughout the UK and language classes, along with services meant to help international students to arrive and settle here. I’m also in the German and in the Russian society and I’ve met very nice people there. Actually, I’ve met most of my friends through these societies, where people with common interests are brought together. Other people may find friends more easily in halls of residence, but as i’m not a great fan of heavy drinking, i tend to be a killjoy in their company. There are many sports and fitness clubs to keep fit, so doing sports is no problem at all, and we have enough time for that.

7) Things are going well socially, I’ve met quite a lot of international students so far and it’s very interesting to get to know them. As for the usual student life, I can see most people around me going out every night, to bars and nightclubs, and Manchester has a lot to offer on that level. The first year is usually the occasion to get to know as many people as you can and go out (and drink etc) as much as you can (afford to), since all you need in order to pass is 40% in your exams. In the 2nd and 3rd years it gets more serious, as all exams count towards the diploma.

8) I’m having to work hard, but other people don’t seem to work as much (in December they were pretty stressed out though). There are also quite a lot of very talented people who work after their night out and manage to study well. The bulk of my work is reading, and my knowledge and understanding of the course fully depends on the amount of books I manage to read. I’ve found out that the content of the lectures is all in the books, so now I know that if I miss lectures it’s not a great loss. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory, though, and we have compulsory tasks to do in preparation for them. Some subject combinations are harder than others, of course, and joint honours represent a much larger amount of work than single honours.

9) Having changed my course twice, I can’t really give a precise answer... but I know for sure that I’ve made great progress in German, thanks to daily practice, and I’m glad to see that I have better grades in translation than my English fellow students, who work with their mother tongue.

10) I’d tell them that the administration is generally well organised and very helpful with any questions (I can also judge by my experience with applications to other unis, not only Manchester), so they shouldn’t hesitate to ask whatever they would like to know. I think they know how to deal with international students quite well; they know the problems that can arise and give helpful advice. So there is no need to panic. Life is really great in Manchester, but it is too easy to fall into the easy life of junk food. I did appreciate coming back home and eating good food. I think that going to visit a couple of universities is also helpful. I visited only Manchester (which was my 4th choice, I believe) and at least I didnt feel lost when I came here in September, I already knew the place and found it easy to get around. I don’t know what to say besides that, if I had any trouble it seems to be very far away and I can’t remember it.

William at Polytechnic: good advice for Grandes Ecoles, studying abroad, studying finance and prépa

Before telling you the important bits of advice, just a few paragraphs so you know where I’m coming from. I am currently studying at Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France). I’m still studying various subjects, but i’m specializing next year in structural engineering and material resistance (heading towards architecture and maybe a master of art in architecture at Berkeley)

The 1st year is weird. After a great month in the army in September, I spent 7months teaching in a lycée in parisian suburbs and that was long... I can still not assess whether it has been a complete loss of time or a great experience.

My campus has loads of sport facilities, great diversity in the courses available (esp 1st and 2nd years), I get paid for the teaching and my military status has given me substantial advantages.

Unfortunately, the campus itself is socially too isolated and small compared to that of an American University’s campus. On week-ends one could easily shoot a remake of an apocalyptic movie: it’s deserted for more than half the students are parisians and students get a 75% sncf reduction. A real pity the school is no longer in paris.

One either has to work extremely hard (as much/more than in classe prepa) to get a chance to enter a "corps d’etat", or one can enjoy the club med (the campus is very well equiped for sports, and we work around 16h/week) if one intends to apply to universities abroad.

I’m heading towards architecture as hoped, so things are going well for me.

This is the interesting part: applying to Universities ABROAD from a French Grande Ecole D’Ingénieur:

1) IT WORKS, and for companies, there’s no difference whether you entered the Ivy League after the BAC or simply spent 1year there for a Master. The only occasional difference is the "réseau" that may pull you up. (though the Grandes Ecoles have a better "support structure and network" in France & Europe)

2)when you apply for a master from a GE, assuming your references are sufficient, you may get a job in a research lab (10h/week only , and companies value this experience) that pays your fee. Otherwise, it remains highly expensive (USA: around $60’000 for an mba).

3)of course all of these procedures suffer some competition, but this is the good part: your level of English from Grenoble’s International High School is fantastic leverage. So you can apply to Stanford, MIT, Harvard, ... with excellent chances of being accepted.

4)be careful when you choose your GE: Polytechnique is a great school with entrance to every university, BUT for other schools, DO NOT follow blindly the "palmares" published in newspapers. First get a precise idea of the career you’d like to have. Some school are not specialized enough, for example, Ecole Centrale, and can be a loss of time.

For instance: let’s suppose you like finance your objective is:
- working in a nonethical hedgefund: polytechnique has the best math course in the world for this.
- becoming a trader: you’ll prefer London School of Economics. And in order to go there, Polytechnique may not be the easiest way: Supelec sends more students each year! Plus it’s far easier to enter Supelec than Polytechnique. =>the point is: send Emails, ask questions about the various courses, for there may be an easy way to go where you want.

(For some time i wondered about working as a trader so I gleaned some information that may be useful since finance seems to lure so many people).

B Important about finance:

it’s not to be mixed up with management or economics! I remember back when i was in high school, having classmates talking about working in finance after an Ecole de Commerce. It does not work. Maths are paramount, and all traders have more knowledge in maths than maths teachers with the agreg.

many people are attracted by the famous "trader’s booty" and the perspective of driving a maserati before being 30. Let’s face it: it happened to a few people back in the 90s, but it’s over. Pays remain high. But nothing you couldn’t accomplish if you succeed in any other sector. So my advice: place your bet on something you really like.

C The classe prepa MathSup: it’s unfair, for the amount of work required and the overall strain depends on the person. If you feel highschool demands a lot, prepa will be an ordeal. But do not listen to 40 year old people who remember classe prepa as torture. It has changed.

If you agree with the idea of doing a little more work, then go for it: it won’t be worse than terminale, maybe even lighter, esp since the level in Europole is very good, and you have a huge advantage in English. Having family nearby is important for you don’t have enough free time (compared to university) to live a normal student’s life: the idea is more like 2 more years of high school. So don’t think your odds/social life would get better if you go to a parisian prepa. In fact i have quite a few examples that prove it’s a trap.

Finally, I heard some say "you ruin your youth with a class prepa, these are your best years and you can’t party". Well... You’d better know it is worth working 2 more years.. To an extent you can’t possibly imagine.

For instance, this is one of our summer events: http://www.pointgamma.com/ So the answer is no. You don’t waste your youth in classe prepa.

D Classes prepa HEC & sup de Co: beware: ecole de commerce is not ecole Supérieure de Commerce! French ecoles de commerce are expensive, and mostly useless, unless your parents are CEOs. On the other hand Sup de Co (after a prepa) are fairly expensive but valued by firms. Moreover the classe prepa remains a painful step that can be avoided with the concours passerelles. I don’t know everything about these, but I know many people who entered famous sup de Cos (for instance the EM Lyon, or ESSEC; which are very hard to enter after a prepa HEC) through a concours passerelle, after a licence. For this you need minimum knowledge, what’s really important is to master the oral exam, but it’s nothing compared to 2 years of prepa HEC.

Lucas at Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India

I am currently studying in Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. This is the third year abroad of my combined bachelor programme in Environmental sciences and Political Sciences at Pierre et Marie Curie University and Sciences Po in Paris.

It cost me 600 euros for the plane ticket go and back, 60 euros for the visa, 800 euros for registration fees in India. I also pay sciences Po fees.... 2500 euros per annum.

Other expenses: Living in hostel is free. Per month 100 euros is more than enough for vital expenses (food, washing products and all); I buy a lot of books which are very cheap here and I travel. So my budget is around 250 euros per month. Most of it goes into books and travels.

Problems I’ve had: One has to be careful about food and water or can get diarrhea and a host of parasites from the food and water if it’s not properly cleaned or cooked. And common administrative problems due to the lack of organization of the heavy indian administration.

The good things in life at university include a long tradition of involvement in alternative politics among the student associations. Lots of debates and thinking going on. Extremely interesting people live there. This place is maybe the most representative place of India for this age category, since it is free for Indians and all castes, tribes and social classes are mixed (due to a very democratic admission procedure which challenges the Hindu social order)

Socially my life here is pretty good, because I have time to study what I like (freedom in the choice of courses) and very close friends. However it is still easier to communicate with Europeans than with Indians. It remains especially difficult to have female Indian friends, because there is a war of the sexes going on here. So on this point it could be better.

Academically, I work hard , and am very successful, but still travel and party well. This campus seems to give foreign students a very nice "balance" between academics and social life.

I guess few people would choose India to do their complete studies; or their bachelor’s degree. Yet what I can say is that it would also be interesting to stress that in all public universities in France and in all Sciences Po, as well as in engineering schools, one year abroad is either compulsory or possible.

This was not very clear in my mind at the end of terminale. And it can also be a good option for students who are not fully ready to live abroad right after the BAC.

[|Jeremy at the University of Bristol in the U.K.|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying?

I am studying Biology (Zoology) as an honours degree and Biochemistry as a subsidiary unit at the University of Bristol, UK.

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France?

During the winter months (December to April), there is a direct flight from Grenoble airport to Bristol with Easyjet. Prices can vary from 40 to 150 pounds for a return flight. During other months, I fly from Bristol to Geneva and then take a train to Grenoble. The price range is similar. All this depends on how many times you want to return home. I do not go home during term-time, only during my month-long holidays at Christmas, Easter and Summer (3 months).

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes?

For a British Uni, tuition fees are a standard 3000 pounds. Student Unions around the country are trying to lower this fee. It is important to stress the fact that many students come out of University with a huge debt. However, being a foreign applicant, I was not allowed a student loan.

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) (The more detailed, the better.)

For the first year, I am in a Hall of residence which costs approximately 4200 pounds for the whole year. For my course, I have had to buy 3 textbooks, each 40£. In Bristol, life is not that cheap (obviously much cheaper than London!), especially if you live in the Clifton area. However, there are loads of student discounts in every shop and like in most places, you just have to hunt for the best offers. It also depends whether you choose to stay in a catered or self-catered hall. People in self-catered halls tend to spend less money that those in catered ones, surprisingly.

5. What problems have you had?

Having lived all my life in France, I have had to adapt to Bristish culture, even though I am English! Watch out for binge drinking, bad for your health and money-consuming. Also, even if you are fluent in English, you might take a while to get used to the slang and, in my case, scientific vocabulary (having learnt it all in French). If you intend to work while studying, apply for a national insurance number early on, this has sometimes prevented me from applying to certain jobs.

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are?

Friendly people, help is always available, lots of opportunities for sport, music and drama, lovely city (when it’s sunny...), beautiful countryside very near (Avon Gorge). Depending on which course you do, there will be free time when you can get involved in societies and student life.

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy?

Great! I have met many other students by joining societies, taking part in sport (football and trampoline) and music (symphony orchestra), going out at night. Also, you will make friends with people in your hall or on your course.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?

My Biology course is quite a lot of work. I start every day at 9 am and finish everyday, except Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 pm, with a 2 or 3 hours break at mid-day. So it is pretty relaxed. I have to hand in essays for tutorials, reports for practical work and occasionally, do presentations. I am encouraged to regularly read over my notes and broaden my knowledge by reading other books and textbooks.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically?

I have been very successful so far. If you work regularly and efficiently, you’ll do well and have plenty of time to have fun!

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked?

It may seem like a huge leap forward but there are people willing to help you everywhere! Be prepared to take part in University life and most importantly, be prepared to drink a fair amount of beer (only joking!). You’ll find people LOVE football here and sometimes you’ll get the impression that’s all they talk about. Don’t be put off by this since there are many different things you could do here and a variety of people you can meet!

[|Leah at the University of Texas|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying?

I am studying at University of Texas at Austin. My major is Biochemistry.

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France

It cost me around 700 euros.

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes

Tuition is around 4,000 $ for a semester as an in-state resident. For out-of-state residents it is substantially more expensive more than double the in-state fee.

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) (The more detailed, the better.)

Housing on campus: around $4,000. Food: an extra $50-70 a month Books: $200 (but I was able to buy all my books from friends which lowered this cost greatly)

5. What problems have you had?

None for the moment, there are advisors ready to help for everything and anything.

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are?

The campus is beautiful, the facilities are amazing, UT provides the student with everything to succeed academically with tutoring, teaching assistants, and professor’s office hours.

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy?

Great! I think, in general, people are pretty friendly at universities in the US. We are all having fun meeting new and different people.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?

I have to work hard. Not as hard as in France. The Baccalaureate prepared me well for my classes.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically?

I have finally figured out what I need to do to get an A in all my classes. Now I just need to work hard to do this.

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked.

• Visiting campuses can help you decide which university is best for you. If not, talk with students currently attending that university. • Start the university application process early. There all always some small complications with forms, grades, requirements especially coming from a different country. • Make contact with one of the admissions advisors of the universities. This was vital for my application to UT. I had a very nice lady watch my application: notifying me immediately when there was a hold up or something different that I may have needed. UT is a big school and you need someone to help you get through the colossal bureaucracy in the application process. For UT, Lisa Lockhart is the woman that helped me. She loves students coming from abroad. So if you are thinking about apply to UT and are serious about it, please contact me so I can give you all her contact information plus go and talk to her about you.

[|Livia at the University of California in Santa Barbara|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying? University of California, Santa Barbara in which I’m a Biochemistry major, first doing Pre-biology.

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France?

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? I’m not quite sure how much it costs to sign up for classes, but I do know that, per year (3 quarters) it costs about $20,000 for classes. Then you have to add the housing and the food, which adds to about $10,000.

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.?) (The more detailed, the better.)
- The books I had to buy for the first quarter ended up being quite expensive (around 300-350 total) but that is for excellent text books in chemistry and maths, which I will need for the rest of the year and will, without any doubt, reuse throughout my studies. The cost of the books actually really depends on your studies (usually the science books are more expensive). You also have the opportunity to sell your text books once the quarter is over.
- The price of the food and the rent is calculatd together and its about 10,000 for the entire year with a 19 meal plan per week. You can pick different mealplans, for example 10 or 14 meals per week.

5. What problems have you had?
- So far, i’ve had no problems whatsoever. Just one good advice is to check your college email regularly or actually daily and watch out for payment deadlines (otherwise late payment fees add up, which happened to a friend of mine).

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are?
- The great things at UCSB are numerous. The list would be endless, but i think that the major asset of this university is the social life and the environment there. With the ocean 20 feet from the dorms and a beautiful and amazing campus, with a lagoon and spectacular view, the atmosphere there is not only very pleasant but it turns out that people there are extremely friendly and always there to help you. The atmosphere is very laid back and "chill" as people say, which i particularly like.
- One of the best things about UCSB is also the fact that the social life is omnipresent, but that despite the reputation of the university being a party school, the academic level and program is excellent. It is known that for example the chemistry department is excellent, with extraordinary teachers, and numerous noble prize being given to staff and members. In fact, UCSB is the only university world-wide to have received 5 Noble Prize since 1998!!

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy?
- The social life is amazing. I met my best friends and my group of friends the very first few days, even before school even started. Some say differently, but in my case I turned out extremely lucky, where one of my roomate became my very best friend there. The party life over there is very lively, especially Halloween (I learned that people all across California and even from other states, or even from Hawaii, come to UCSB for our extraordinary halloween celebration). Otherwise, an entire list of groups and associations is available on campus for people to join, such as the ski and snowboard club, the outdoor club, the foreign language club and many more. but overall, no matter what you like, you will find people who share the same interest and hobbies.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?
- I think that this first quarter was easier than the future ones (which was very nice to start out smoothly). But the most important thing is to keep up with the work. Since there is noone there pushing you to go to class or do to your homework, it is very easy to start lagging and not working. A vital thing you have to learn is to manage your time correctly. Subjects there are done in much more depth that in high school in france, which requires more work and attention. But overall, i would have to say that this first quarter was a good way to start out, with not a horrible amount of work but just enough to challenge me and keep me focused.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically?
- So far, I managed to get straight As, even though i am well aware of the fact that the next quarters will be more difficult and that I will have to provide a greater effort to obtain the same grades.

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked?
- I would definitely encourage people to study abroad. It’s a great and amazing experience, which opens up your horizons and opportunities and allows you to meet new people. Be sure to go to an orientation weekend during the summer to check out the campus and already to start becoming familiar with the whole college system and class registration. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly what you want to study. It is of course preferred but you can easily change your major, which a lot of people end up doing ( some people actually come undeclared but coming from out of state it is preferred to have an idea.

[|Sacha at Leicester studying Law|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying?University of Leicester, Law in a double degree English Law with French Law in Strasbourg

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France? 168 euros for the flight, and 45 euros for the train.

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? I have no idea, roughly 3 000 pounds, plus 140 pounds for an extra Russian course.

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.)? (The more detailed, the better.) First semester I spent 100 pounds on books, I am in catered accomodation, therefore my food is paid for in my accomodation fees which are about of 3 000 pounds for the whole year, including rent, food (breakfast and dinner), heating, water and electricity.To go out, it depends how often you go out, but roughly I’d say you spend 30 euros an evening (including drinks, entry to club and taxi)

5. What problems have you had? None.

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are? Excellent teaching, and teaching resources too, Meeting new people, but I guess this is the same in every university.

7. Socially, how are things going? Well.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work? Quite a lot of reading to be done, perhaps I’m not working as much as I should.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically? I situate myself in a 2:1 for the moment, which is reasonnably good, but hoping to reach first in my January exams.

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked? Knowing the country and the spirit of teaching are a big plus to help understand the way the British educational system works. Having a lot of imagination helps too. Also, do not be scared, life’s just the same everywhere. And leaving parents, lovers, friends behind is hard, but relationships never fail or carry on as we expect them to anyway. I sincerely believed my boyfriend would not be able to be faithful and that things would be over, but things only got better, just as with my parents. Leaving doesn’t mean ending, it means carrying on our way into life....one of the best choices I have made so far!

[|Sabrina at Fordham University in New York City|]

The answers are somewhat different for me since I decicded to go to the university where my father teaches/taught.

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying? I am studying at Fordham University at Lincoln Center Campus. My major is International and Intercultural Studies. I have so far mostly taken "CORE" classes, which are non-major classes that you HAVE TO take. These include 2 social sciences, 1 math class, 1 science class, 1 art, 2 history classes, 2 theology, 2 philosophy, etc. Every school has a "CORE" but Fordham’s core is particularly long. It takes up about year and a half/ 2 years. This semseter for example I was taking: English, Psychology, Philosophy of Ethics, Spanish Literature (which is the exit level of langage..everyone has to fulfill the language requirment..I chose not to do French, as I have been taking Spanish in high school and plan on going to South America next year), and International relations (not a core class, but a "major" class)

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France?

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? Dorms excluded, Fordham costs $30 000/year- a little less than NYU (its main competitor). Howevr, scholarships are granted to many. However, it didn’t cost me a lot ot come here..only airfare- as I get free tuition (as my dad is a teacher there). People who pay the tuition + lab fees etc. may have extra expenses (for example if you’re taking a science class or phototgraphy, etc for equipment...)

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food,etc.)? (The more detailed, the better.)

The first year, my parents would pay for me staying at the dorms ($10 000/year), but this year I moved in my dad’s house in Brooklyn- as I did not get the single I asked for at the dorms- and did not want to share my room again.... Books are quite expensive- extst books are between 60 and 120$. Evry class requires at least 1 book. You take 5 clasees per semester Rent in NYC (trying to find an apartment for next year) is super expensive...Most of my friends pay around $2500-to $2700 a month for a two bedroom apartment! Food is included with a cafeteria card I believe in the dorm expense. However cafeteria food is not the best..take-out here is anytime of the day or night and pretty cheap (which is not cool because you end up calling take out all the time...)...variety is very much present and different than in France.

5. What problems have you had? The problems I have encountered (mostly last year as I am now a sophomore) are: * being so very far from home *underestimating how different the mentality and people would be...but you get used to it. *living in New York- great city which never sleeps- which may tempt you to do the same- It is very easy to take up the night life of the big apple....and in New York, it is all about WHO you know...(no joke)... * under 21 it is illegal to drink so it’s difficult to enjoy even a glass of wine from time to time.. so many students get fake Ids because all the bars and club ask to see proof of age (They "card" you.) You get carded when you buy beer, any liquor, when you go out to the club, EVERYWHERE!...

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are? The good things at my school are the fact that is in Manhattan. My school has another campus (the main one) in the Bronx, where there is a real campus with lots of grass and tress etc., but my school is in the city- and I wanted to be IN New York...so i like that..Most classes don’t have a large number of people (about 20 per class) which makes it much more intimate and easy to learn. The staff team is pretty good I must say and I have encountered some great professors. My campus is small, which i like, although some may get tired of it.

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy? Socially, it was sometimes difficult...just because some Americans here are so-(over?) friendly and I wasn’t used to that..but I let things come in their own time. I do have 1 or 2 close friends. and many, many acquaintances...a lot of my relations with people here are very superficial (unfortunately). However I have met a wide range and a variety of people from everywhere in the world, all type of ethnicities, social backgrounds etc. But this is REALLY the land of self-made men..and you soon come to learn that you have to make those contacts, those superficial relationships to get you where you want to be. Knowing people will really help-big time.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work? Acadamecally, you DO have to work. Especially if your parents are paying 40000 a year for you to go to a school here. This is not "la fac". They take attendance. It’s the perfect mix, for me, in between high school and ’LA FAC- just because you have much more freedom than in high school (although i was myself pretty free, having my apartment, in high school) and but aren’t just a number among many (thats how i feel it’s like in LA FAC)... so you are allowed 3 absences per class for each semester. and you do have to work. However, you still have time to enjoy the city where you’re studying, have a job (i have always had a job during my college carreer..currently I have two!)

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically? Academically, I’m doing well. My GPA is about a 3.3 or 3.4 (out of 4)- which means mostly B’s, B+’s or A’s in every class. But i do work, and keep in mind this is WHY I Am here! (it may become easy to forget..). There is a lot of opportunity here ( I feel), and I am intellectually challenged in most of my classes- I plan on going to Argentina for a semester next fall, and would like to do an internship summer 2008 at the UN. (which is in NYC!). I must say that I feel confident here about job opportunities, and do feel like its up to me to make it happen. Even so far as jobs I have had here, I’m pretty happy: I’ve worked in clothing stores (including the high fashion Armani), and I am currently working as a hostess at an Italian restaurant and working for Diesel (high fashion also). I don’t think these opportunities could have happened in France.

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked? All of last year I was thinking about coming back and doubting this was the place for me...New Yorkers are very peculiar. For the rest of the states, they are what Parisians are to the French people: seen as cold, always in a hurry, angry, etc...it is somewhat true..and I hate to say it but sometimes i do become like that too (hating the subway, the slow-walking tourists, the obnoxious people, etc )...but as time goes by, I do feel like I’m building a stable base for myself: school, carreer opportunity- it is a great city- very extreme sometimes- but great. Now, (and only now) do I realize that this was the right choice.

[|Kevin at McGill in Montreal Canada|]

I am currently studying at McGill university (Montreal) in an International Development studies program.

2) I actually bought a return ticket for around 700CAD

3) As a French citizen (and Quebecois) I pay Quebec tuition fees, which is close to 1400CAD per term

4) Per term I pay between 400 and 500 CAD for books, 550CAD/month for rent - but I live alone, you should count about 400CAD/mth for a place shared amongst 2-4 people. Electricity, Heating and lighting is included in the cost for most appartments. Telephone costs 30CAD a month and DSL internet 30CAD/month. Access to Transport system (bus + metro) is 33CAD/month. For food I count 25% takeaway and 75% supermarket in which 100CAD/mth is for the prior and 300CAD/mth the latter. With this I account for around 160CAD/month for leisure. My average Total: 1200CAD/mth and 4000CAD/term

5) There were no major problems concerning any of the McGill or Quebec administration, they are relatively efficient and it is mainly a question of well planning out the procedures for yourself. Other than that simply make sure to get a student visa before you arrive or they will make you cross the american border and come back in.

6) Positive aspects: Lots of free time to develop autonomous study and to extend your education to much of what is outside of the classes - I am startin and association with 15 ppl from varied backgrounds- called AbeO, the site will be online soon I will send it over when it is functional - it is an association that seeks to produce change from what is absent in the world and that should be present (starting with the youth). There is much flexibility in choosing your courses and much personal fullfilment in actually constructing your own degree out of a diffusion of courses. The university is in the city centre, so it is very conveniently placed. Most of the teachers are high class, yet I would not recommend taking a degree in sociology or anthropology nor psychology at Mcgill. The other courses in the arts faculty are very stimulating. Mcgill uses very up to date technology for courses, there are generally 5 to 6 different types of supporting material for the course. Negative aspects: The general population of students originate from English-speaking Canada or the USA, so penetrating into the vibrant Quebec culture must be undertaken by other means. For people who are generally afraid of being exposed to cold temperatures, Montreal is the place to be in order to disarm that sort of fear. Allthough the sound of -15 -20 resonates as something lethal, it really is not that bad, today for instance I comfortably dressed as I would on a winter day in Grenoble. It only occasionally reaches cold past -20. Socially and culturally Montreal is an amazing city. Large enough to accomodate 4 Million ppl, yet the overall vibe is intimacy. Both the Anglo, Franco and Quebec culture can be found separately and interrelatedly, therefore creating ia very rich and diverse socio-cultural environment.Montreal is a little haven for artists and intellectual who want to escape from the American/Canadian culture and/or the Western European culture, but still remain in touch with close cultural references.

7) the degree to which one wants to work entirely depends on himself. there is clearly enough time and space for those to work hard and get good marks and there is also space for people to do many other activities and still graduate.

8) Europole and the English section have definitely given me a headstart in content. But especially in readings and writing skills as well as good structural analysis. At 70% working capacity I obtained marks equivalent to 16/20 overal last term. But, there is still much space left for improvement and not only for myself but also in the Mcgill grading system - which is very close to the standards of the OIB or at least to what they might look like in university.

Also see Canadian university entry procedures.

[|Chloe at Cardiff University|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying? in Cardiff University doing joint honours psychology with criminology

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France? I was taken up there, but it costs approximately 156 pounds for a return ticket. I now take the National Express to London Heathrow (35 pounds) then a plane to Lyon (usually around 50 pounds if I’m lucky.)

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? nothing I think (for most students it’s now £3000 a year.)

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) The more detailed, the better.I’m in my second year so now living in a house. Rent is 250£ per month, then we have bills on top of it. I have two jobs but last year had a budget of 200£ a month and it was fine!! Books are very expensive, but you can find them in libraries or buy them second hand. If new, books are reaaaaally expensive (about 40pounds each), but they can all be taken in the library and rented (I have been renting mine since the begining of the year.) Food is quite expensive too but I’m in a part-catered residence so I get evening meals. It’s about 3 pounds for any meal.

5. What problems have you had? Opening a bank account, even with British nationality I am considered an international student because I haven’t lived in England for the past three years. it took ages to open (too many demands) it opened after 4 weeks (I had to change banks, so more like 6 weeks really) and only have a solo card which I can’t use everywhere! This means I don’t have the right to have an overdraft (when there’s no money left...too bad!!) Getting organised can also be a problem; it’s all about personal work!

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are? The university is amazing, staff are very supportive and most do research which is very helpful to grasp a clearer understandings of what we’re studying. The university has loads of facilities and everything (sports, computers, work studios etc....) The student union is great as well, with loads of societies, sports available, its own bar and club, cheap and safe nights out. The social part of it is the best!!! People are really nice in Cardiff, it’s a very student friendly city.

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy? Great!!!! As said before it’s a very student friendly city and there are loads of social events, loads of opportunities to meet new people, do new things, join societies, sports or just go out!!!

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work? A lot of work, but it’s mostly reading (which can be long and complicated) and report writing and preparing for seminars. Everybody is at the same level and it’s quite high so they make you work harder, it’s personal work as well, so you can’t just learn things by heart. Lectures give you the basic outlines and you have to do research, critical analysis of theories etc...it’s hard work but great if you love it (like me)

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically? I had an overall 67% in my first year which is pretty good but second year is much harder.

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked. I believe it’s the best choice I’ve ever made so I would highly recommend it. Being half British, I’m a bit biased about the U.K., but I still think the people here are amazing and the social and to some extent professional opportunities are marvellous.

See also U.K. university procedures.[|Chloe at Cardiff University|]

Anastasia at Westminster University London

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying?

Westminster university, London. I study BA english literature, with a sociology module. I also took up as a free module icelandic at UCL university.

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France? The plane to get to London was 30£, then we needed 15£ to get to where I now live. The transport in london is very expensive, that is quite problematic, a ticket will cost about 20£ a week, a bit less with the student discount.

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? The fees were 1200£ for the year.

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) The more detailed, the better.

The transport is very expensive, as is food. Food shopping costs me about 20 to 30£ a week, by been careful of what I spend. Being in literature I needed to buy many books, they are not too expensive (about 1.50£ each for the classics), by sociology books (because I have a sociology module) that we need to buy are about 15 to 25£ each. A lot of books are at the library, but we still need to purchase quite a lot. Most of my expenses are spent in food and books. The rent is 82£ a week, which is average for London.

5. What problems have you had?

I got lost the first week! It is rather difficult to know where you are because the city is so big. I did not have any serious problems, I adapted quite easily, though I found at first it was difficult to make friends at uni.

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are?

University subjects are very interesting and the tutors always very helpful.

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy? Things have been very difficult the first month, as I had difficulty to make friends, but to live in a hall of residence enabled me to meet many people. Now everything is fine, I have met lots of people and made good friends. There is always something to do in London ,the city is really great to ive in, socially and culturally.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?

The work is not overwhelming, we need to work a lot alone and that may be the difficult thing to adapt to. But if we follow every modules, and do extra work of at least 2 hours a day, it is very easy to follow. I found the reading difficult at first, having to read 3 books a week in literature and other pieces of writting in sociology. This is the hardest to keep up.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically?

I have not yet had any grades; but I participate a lot in lessons and the teachers seem pleased with the level I have. I am following a year 2 sociology module with no difficulty at all. This is a really great experience I am living and regret not at all my choice, thank you for everything.

See also U.K. university procedures.

Laura at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design in London

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying?

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (part of the University of the Arts London) and I’m studying at the foundation in art and design

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France?

hum.. not sure, we took the car to go there but I know my plane ticket to come back for the holidays cost 78euros (to come here and go back)

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes?

no scholarfees (for people who are under 19 and British citizens...)

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) The more detailed, the better.

for my accomodation: about £410 per month (very good hall of residence, zone 1, etc) - for food: from £40 tà £60 per month - transport (subway, zone 1, WITH student reduction!) : £49 - art materials: about £5-£10 per month - leisure: £50 per month

5. What problems have you had?

no problems in particular, just sometimes with the language, it’s quite hard and tiring (at the end of the day..) but it’s really ok opening a bank account was quite problematic: it took 2 months (!!), and once opened, the bank did a mistake and sent many things (debit card, PIN code) to my parents in France

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are?

it is very easy to know a lot of people (we change our class all the time), the student union organizes quite a lot of events (party, etc) and propose activities (sport, society clubs, etc) the libraries at our disposition are very good

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy?

I would say everything is going pretty well! the people there are very open, and it’s easy to make acquaintances (I guess, it’s the Anglo-saxo mentality, compared to the French one) at the beginning, I felt it was quite hard to talk with British students (difficult to understand them sometimes..) but I’m getting more and more at ease with English, so now I don’t have any problem with that.

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?

at the very beginning, we had quite a lot to do (finishing projects at the last minute = short nights haha) but these last days, compared to the pace of work I used to have at Europole, it’s very calm. But I know, the amount will increase and some student who did the foundation last year told me it was quite stressful at the end of the year

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically?

I think I’m doing pretty well! the first assesmant will take place in two weeks, but my tutors already told me I would be good for what I want to study I was a bit disappointed by Central Saint Martins: I thought some international students did very BAD works (from my point of view..) [it’s easier to get into the school as international student, for they pay very expensive fees] but otherwise, I really enjoy studying there.

[|Anna at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, U.S.A.|]

1. In what university are you studying and what subject(s) are you studying? Brandeis University majoring in politics and minoring in Legal Studies and Near Eastern Judaic Studies.

2. Exactly how much did it cost you to travel to your university from France? The plane ticket costs about $500 if you take it in advance and the ride from the airport to the university is $50 by cab and about $10 with the bus and the commuter rail.

3. How much did you have to pay to sign up for classes? A year at Brandeis is about $40,000

4. How much do you have to pay for other expenses (books, rent, food, etc.) The more detailed, the better. The whole price is $5,000. The meal plans are around $1,100 a semester and the books around $300 at the bookstore, but it depends on the class you take and if you buy used books they might only cost $100 if you know where to go.

5. What problems have you had? I had a few problem for the social security number and the cell phone because you need an SSN for that, but everything works out at the end. It’s hard to get a job but once you have one, you’re in...

6. What are the good things in life at university where you are? The classes are really interesting. If you have the opportunity to get in the orchestra (I’m in the Brandeis-Wesseley orchestra) it is a wonderful thing. You get to meet new people and share a passion, as well as destress yourself from all the pressure you may get by being enrolled in many classes and wondering if you will ever succeed as an international student.. I’m also in a musical which is a very rewarding activity just to perform in an area you love, transmit your emotions and have fun with new people. I know that being part of a sport team is intensive but really fun. I took belly-dancing, it’s a new PE class for me which is really fun. Just be careful, it asks lot of commitment and time but if you like it is simply great!!!

This is a very open-minded place with a lot of diversity, close to a big city (Boston) where a lot happens, good transportation and a lot of groups where you can "fit in.". And you are abroad!!!...yeah

7. Socially, how are things going? Great, good, so-so, or pretty lousy?

Great, after a cultural shock, everything’s fine. You just need to find a balance between Americans, foreigners and weird people(lol) and then, socially, everything is perfect. You get to know people from all over the world with many different origins. As an international student you get to know many other international students, find kind of the same culture and get along really well. You meet (of course!!) many natives who give you lots of advice for your new life!!

8. Academically, how hard are you having to work?

There is a lot of work, nothing compared to the "lycee" but at least you study a field that you choose, that interests you. It’s not as hard as I thought and I really love what I do so it’s not really objective. I work decently hard.

9. How successful do you seem to be so far academically? Surprisingly good. I’m getting better in English so it helps!!

10. What advice do you have for people applying abroad or who might study in the country you picked? Be yourself and be open-minded.


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