I started my exchange semester at IPAG Business School, Nice, in the end of August 2018. The time has gone by so fast and now as it is already December, my study exchange has almost come to its end. That’s why, as a tip number one: you should enjoy the exchange while it lasts because time flies when you are having a great time!
And indeed, I have had the time of my life in the French Riviera. Studying at IPAG has been quite nice, although you should be prepared that it is not even closely as organised as in Finland. My favorite courses at IPAG have been French Culture & Civilization and the French classes, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone who is going to study at IPAG. Especially the French classes have been the best language classes that I have ever had in my life – the teacher was extremely entertaining but at the same time I was able to improve my French skills more than ever before. The teacher talked only French during the classes, which was also a very effective way to learn French.
As mentioned before, studying in France is a bit different when compared to Finland. For me it took some time to get used to the French style of the lectures. For instance, when having an exam, some of the teachers expect you to remember everything that they have said in the class, but what cannot be found anywhere written down in the course materials. After I learned this, I started to write everything down that the teachers said during the lectures.
When it comes to free time, the French Riviera has so much to offer. I’ve been enjoying especially the vibrant student life and the beautiful city of Nice in general. During the first two months the weather was unspeakably gorgeous with the temperature of up to +30 (or more) degrees Celsius. Most of this time I spent lying on the beach after school and getting to know the sight-seeings, as well as the lively nightlife of Nice. Something worth to mention too is la cuisine française, which will never let you down. I have tasted the most amazing things in France, and cooked delicious meals together with my roommate. What I have learned is that the French food culture is so much more than wine and cheese, and it will always keep surprising you positively.
In my opinion, it is hard to run out of things to do in the French Riviera. Nice has many beaches and other stunning places to see and it is surrounded by beautiful villages which are easy to get to with paying only 1,50 euros for the bus. So far I have been to Monaco, Antibes, Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Marseille. In addition, it is very easy to travel to other countries from Nice and it is possible to do so even by bus or train. For example, I was in Italy together with some of my classmates (which was awesome). We travelled by bus and train only and visited Venice, Florence and Milan. As Nice has a broad variety of cultural events as well, I went to Maître Gims‘ concert, which was held at Palais Nikaïa. Maître Gims is a Congolese-born French singer and my favorite artist at the moment.
Something that everyone should know who are interested in living in France, is the French culture of protests and strikes. Especially during my exchange semester, there have been many protests in the whole France, including Nice. So far it has been safe in Nice during the protests, but you should take into consideration that the public transportation may not work during those days and furthermore, you should definitely not reserve a trip to Paris when the worst protests are going on (like I did, though couple of weeks beforehand and without the knowledge of the future events).
What I didn’t know before coming to Nice is that it can be a bit rainy and cloudy in November–December. So if you plan to stay here during the autumn or winter, I recommend you to bring an umbrella with you (because I didn’t)! What also surprised me is that there are many type of activities to do in Nice also in the autumn/winter time. For instance, my friends and I have been ice-skating multiple times and there is also a beautiful Christmas market and Christmas lights decorating the streets in December. We have also been swimming in the sea still in December, which is quite unusual for me. The sea water is still quite warm, around +17 degrees Celsius.
All in all, I would definitely recommend exchange studies in Nice. I can guarantee that you will not get bored easily and you will definitely have the best time of your life, as I have. Once you settle to live in Nice, the city will never leave your heart.
Bonne chance avec votre expérience étrangère,