It has now been four and half months since I arrived in Paris for the first time ever. Since then, I have nearly finished my studies, travelled around France, eaten a lot of baguette and of course made new friends.
During these four months I have studied management in ESCE International Business School. I am one of the whopping seven Finnish exchange students in our school. In total there’s almost 100 of exchange students and we come from all over the world. I have had eight courses, varying from two to eight credits. My courses mix bachelor- and master-level studies.
My schedule hasn’t been tight, but the work load has sometimes been a lot. Despite of that, I have been thrilled to participate in courses that my home university doesn’t offer. Just like in TAMK, most of the studies included a group work project and that enabled me to get to know people from other cultures.
Throughout this semester, my weekends have been somewhat scheduled. Surprise surprise, friends and family wanted to visit Paris (and me) often and I have acted as their tourist guide. In Paris it’s also super easy to hop in a bus to Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Monaco… You name it. Opens a whole new world of travelling for a Finn.
Here are some things that were new and/or surprising to me:
- People always jaywalk. If they don’t, they are tourists.
- Don’t you dare to buy bread from your closest supermarket. It’s boulangerie or nothing. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
- Lunch takes 1-2 hours and contains two courses. It is not just about refuelling for the end of the day. It is about enjoying the food and the company.
- Big percentage of the restaurants close their doors between lunch and dinner, 14-19 o’clock. The restaurants that have their kitchens open and working, are marked with the text ‘service continu’.
- French people actually know english and aren’t afraid to use it. And also, I haven’t crossed my path with a Frenchman or -woman that would have been notably rude.
- C’est la grève! As in, these guys like to make political standouts – such as a strike of public transports, that lasts for months.
- Having an oven is a luxury. Same goes for elevators and central heating.
- French people are most likely lately and not a single bit sorry about it.
This has been my first time ever in France, but much to my own delight, I adapted to the culture fairly quick. Maybe it’s the C’est la vie -attitude that got to me. Not worrying and stressing about things that I can’t change.
As a destination for exchange studies, I would recommend Paris for a nature that is easy-going and organized. For instance, you may receive information fairly late, but be sure it will arrive. Having a laid-back attitude helped me enjoy my time in France more.