My Year Abroad in Paris
As a French student, I was able to do a year abroad in my third year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I chose to study at the Sorbonne, in Paris. Here, I wanted to share some aspects of my year abroad that I thought would be interesting, and hopefully help you decide where to go on your year abroad.
I initially chose the Sorbonne because it is one of the best universities in France, let alone Paris, and because the buildings are structurally stunning. In terms of classes, however, you are slightly limited in coming to the Sorbonne. When the French Department at Warwick pair you with your host university, they immediately pair you with the faculty that teaches Languages, and for most universities, this isn’t a problem as there is only one faculty. However, at the Sorbonne, being such a large university, there are four different faculties, which each specialising in different fields, but the faculty we join is called Faculté des Lettres, which only focuses on the Arts. For those interested in Literature, Sociology or learning other languages, this faculty is the one for you. However, as a joint honours major in Economics and French, I was interested in taking some Economics classes. This, unfortunately, isn’t an option in the Faculté des Lettres, and would require me to instead be in the Faculté du Droit. Consequently, I chose to take classes in French Literature and French Language, which ended up being oddly, very linguistic based and ultimately, very boring. All down to personal preference though!
Luckily, however, your classes don’t matter too much, as Warwick don’t require you to pass any other of your exams. Of course though, it is still worth attempting to listen and learn during the lessons, as you will definitely learn some French vocabulary regardless of the classes you take. It does just mean that the pressure is off when it comes to revising and taking the assignments.
I personally really enjoyed studying, as it gave structure to my day without me having to worry about my final transcript. I could enjoy the learning experience and just try to make the most of the teaching offered. Choosing to study is also a great way to make friends. There is also the opportunity to work during your year abroad, however, and some students do prefer this option as they gain work experience and earn money whilst doing so. It is definitely worth considering what you are better suited to and what you will enjoy the most.
When I wasn’t studying, I was spending time with my friends, many of which came from Warwick University and were also living in Paris for that year. Luckily, Paris is a city that a lot of French students pick to stay for their year abroad, and so you will never find yourself without friends. Similarly, there are many events organised specifically for Erasmus students to get to know each other, usually hosted by a company called Parismus. These events are great fun and an amazing way to meet new people (not all of which are English) that have chosen to spend a year abroad in Paris.
During the day, there is plenty to do as Paris is such a large city, offering a range of tourist attractions, museums, art galleries, bars and gardens. This meant that I was never bored in Paris, and could always find something new to explore.
The culture in Paris is also so prominent that it really immerses you even within the first few weeks of being there. You quickly pick up on the lifestyle and adopt it as your own, having morning runs by the Seine and apéro in the Marais.
However, living in Paris isn’t all glamorous. Unfortunately, like many big cities, Paris is prone to poverty and crime. Pick-pocketers are common, especially in the metro and in areas where there are influxes of tourists, and it can be scary to walk the streets alone at night.
Paris is also extremely expensive. You will be paying top dollar from everything ranging from accommodation to night outs…but that’s what your Erasmus grant is for!
All in all, I loved my year abroad and wouldn’t change it for the world. Regardless of where you end up, you will fall in love with the city and its culture, and create amazing memories that will last a lifetime.