Home Questions and Answers What do I need to know about life at Sciences Po, Paris, before I begin?
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Hello there! I went on exchange last year (2013/2014), so I would say I've had a pretty recent experience. Now before I begin, just to note, this is under the impression that you're a typical Year Abroad student from the UK. It is rather different with Master etc.Paris in general:1) Money Money Money - Paris is realllllly rather expensive, whatever you do try and find some extra finance as the city will cost you more than pretty much any other city you go abroad to
2) Accommodation (if you haven't found it) - Try go early / ask around for connections, that sometimes works. I personally found a place through leboncoin.fr by registering and literally being the first to call the number and looking at the flat within two hours. If you don't speak French prepared to a struggle.
Sciences Po:As a typical exchange student, the system is rather overwhelming at first, and that seems to be part of the general Parisian vibe. Try not to let it get to you, once you get passed the fact that lots of systems and complications are put in place, you realise that this institution is actually not as 'super-intelligent as it is made out', I would say if you are strong-willed you can overcome the barriersThe teaching is done with a particular mÃ©thodologie which is completely alien to our system. Honestly you must accept that these rules that are created are rather idiosyncratic and go with the flow. I went to the sÃ©maine d'intÃ©gration and it was somewhat useful in grinding the methodology into you, though you could equally try and just speak to French students in general about it beforehand and be alright. If you are used to the rather egalitarian system in the UK universities (somewhat anyway) in terms of diversity, prepare to be rather shocked at Sciences Po Paris. For the most part, these students come from rich background. Whilst this is certainly not due to nepotism, the concours to get into the school are so brutal/fees substantially higher that the overall effect seems to be rather affluent students.Courses are on the whole very high level, so do try take advantage of this. However, this comes at the price of a crazy subscription system - inscription pÃ©dagogique. Basically the system opens up at a certain time, e.g. 3pm, and it is quite literally your perogative to sign up for your courses ASAP before they all fill up, it is literally hyper-first come first serve.I would say it is relatively hard to try and find a social group easily when at Paris so this is something to bear in mind. The 'University life' is rather underwhelming compared to the UK counterparts, so they only have some events. Do try and take apart if you can though.Generally, just be prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone, going to Sciences Po will at times be quite a lot harder than other year abroads. However, the changes it has made to me and my mentality was incredible, and honestly, if you are prepared for it, it can be one of the best things that happens for you as a person for personal development.
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