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Its 4am and a few carefree silhouettes can be seen winding their way along the Seine, fat nutella crepes in hand, with the Notre Dame majestically rising above them. Ahhh the romantic Parisian life… it certainly beats grabbing a kebab on the way home from a night on the town!


Once again a stop on my ultimate world tour landed me in a place where Sydney Uni students have the option of going on exchange. (insert Davina’s blog-critic inner voice… “But wait, there’s more! That’s right, if you apply to Sydney University today you could be going to Santiago, San Francisco, Boston, or even Paris … I’ll even throw in a free set of steak knives if you enrol in the next ten minutes!”)

Ahhh where was I? That’s right, still trying to convince you to go on exchange. I can’t help it, the more I see of what’s on offer the more I am perplexed as to how people wouldn’t take the opportunity. So here I was, lost in the city of luuurrrve. It is easy to become swept up in the romanticism of the winding cobbled streets and luminous monuments that fill the Parisian grid. Though my single status endows me with a vendetta against public displays of affection it was hard not to be wooed by this magical place. I find it difficult to contemplate being able to do some of your degree here, given the stereotyped view we all have in our heads that makes Paris seem almost mythical. But it’s a reality alright… you could read over your Proust on the Champs-Elysees or munch on a baguette between classes. Sydney University currently has exchange agreements with more than ten institutions in France, including the world-renowned Sorbonne among other prestigious universities. This makes it possible to really explore a city and life filled with funky basement bars, uber-trendy fashions and a heavenly patisserie on every corner (seriously – what more could you want?)

Yet Paris could also be quite a difficult destination, the smartly dressed Parisians sometimes seem unwelcoming in their all black ensembles, and once again this is a place that has an added linguistic dimension that was absent in my own exchange. It is also certainly not a communal college-type experience, with most exchange students renting their own tiny apartments, meaning it could get quite lonely. But it puts you snap bang in the middle of the amazing cultural and historical milieu that is Europe. It is hard to conceive of flitting over to another country for the weekend but with the amazing phenomenon that is the EU this is far from a dream. Bored of Paris? Though this is highly unlikely one can easily be distracted by other Euro treats. You could pop over to London for the weekend to rise above the Queen on the ‘eye’, head up to Switzerland to swoosh down the slopes (though with the way the climate is changing you’d better hurry), or get lost in one of many castles dotted about Prague. Budget airlines & the Eurostar make travel so easy it seems like us Aussies are stranded on a desert island. Oh hang on a minute….


...we ARE stuck in a desert island!

Wow I'm actually a first year student and I really, like REALLY want to go to exchange esp to the city of L.O.V.E.

So how was it for you? Do you think one WHOLE year there will be too much for me? I just realised recently I react quite badly to cultural shock (ie almost hysterics) so I'm not sure how to handle this new 'diesease'...

Hey Jenmia, while I actually didn't go on exchange to Paris (I was in Boston) I definately think a year is not too long. Pretty much everyone I've talked to who went on exhange anywhere in the world would have loved to stay for a year. But don't take my word for it - come along to the Exchange Fair this Thursday 29 March in the Cloisters of the Main Quad from 11am to 3pm & you can talk to someone first hand.

As far as the culture shock goes I think it was far worse on return. When you are over there you have so much going on you don't really get a chance to stop and think of it!

I hope that helps :)

hey davina,
i'm really thinking of going on an exchange to france, though i've heard that the people there arent always nice and are snobby. please tell me this is a stereotype and that it isnt true. i really want this to be a great social experience!

Hey Magz, this is a tough one. While any experience is what you make it, the stereotype of snobby French can be true too. But just like all Americans aren't loud and obnoxious there are always many exceptions to the rule. At the end of the day it is more of a cultural difference than anything else & it may just take you longer to get to know people and how they interact socially. In the meantime there will probably be heaps of other international students from across the world who will be part of your social experience and may understand you better anyway.

Don't let a stereotype deter you from your plans, just be aware of it and embrace the fact that we're all different, it'd be a bit boring otherwise wouldn't it?

Hi guys, I've just got back from my exchange in Paris (good to see you there Davina!) and I can vouch for the fact that people do wear a lot of black, Parisian manners take some getting used to, and that public displays of affection are par for the course! However, do not let this deter you from spending as much time as possible in this wonderful city, full of amazing new things that you stumble over when you least expect them. Around every cobblestone corner is your new favourite cafe. Also Magz, Dd is right, there is a grain of truth to some stereotypes but that is all that they are. And besides, the international students are some of the best friends you'll meet.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....