Excitement of returning home, Sadness from leaving

It’s dark. It’s cold, but inside the houses it is warm. There’s at least some snow. Yeap, no doubt! It’s home!

I just all went so fast! I mean it feels like I went to France just few weeks ago! However, all that is good must come to an end! I came home a bit earlier since I had all my exams on the first exam week. Lots of people still had two other weeks where they could have had their exams. However, lot of people who stayed and did not have exams or had a long break before the next one took upon the last travelling, especially the ones who came to Europe from overseas since this was a great opportunity for them to explore rest of the Europe. Maybe you can reserve some time for that in the end of your exchange if you wish to travel a bit on your holidays 😉

How did the leaving go? Perfect! All was in order when I had reserved the train and plane tickets right after knowing my exam dates. I luckily also had two days after the exam to clean and pack and then to visit the Strasbourg Christmas market on the weekend before leaving. So I had plenty of time to think what I will have to do before leaving and time to do it also. A reminder here: You might want to talk to people who stay for a next semester if they want some of the stuff that you might leave behind. I unfortunately forgot to do this so I had to throw away a lot of stuff expect some food supplies that my neighbor was happy to receive. This also makes it easier to clear the apartment for the “état des lieux” -check, also known as outgoing inventory of fixtures. Remember to safeguard this document after you hand in the keys and leave the apartment. Since you need it with the letter that you can be send to CAF housing subsidy, if you wish to inform them of your departure this way.

As I was leaving Lille I watched all the beautiful architecture, scenes and parks that I had just walk through during the semester. I started to feel really nostalgic and just wanted to stay for one last day! But I had to go… I felt mixed feeling of excitement of returning home and seeing my family and friends but also sad since the exchange felt just coming to a sudden stop. I will of course keep the memories and people that I have had the privilege of experiencing and meeting during the semester in Lille. If some of the great people have the chance to read this, I want to thank you for making the exchange what is was. Which was awesome! 😉 I hope to meet you later in life 😉

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I feel like the courses I took were really specific to my interest in marketing, leadership and management so I was happy that IÉSEG had a lot to choose from topics. Even though the courses were aimed more for general business practices, I am sure that I will be able to utilize them at my future entertainment industry based career. I also feel more comfortable in international as well as French environment since I feel like this exchange boosted my French skills as well as getting to know how different cultures work and how should you work with them. We were also mentioned that future employees will appreciate the international experience that an employee has since the world is globalizing and you seldom work with only your native colleagues anymore. So thank you IÉSEG and International club for all that you gave me during this semester!

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How does it feel to be back home? Great! All of a sudden I feel safer a taken care of even though I had really nothing to worry at Lille either. It great to meet my family and friends again, take a relaxing sauna, eat some delicious rye bread, throw snowballs around just for the fun of it and try to do as much Finnish things as possible 😀 I feel like I have accustomed to the life back here quite fast, although I have had some things that have shocked me a little; Are Finnish people really this silent all the time? Why do people think I talk too much? Was only -1 really this cold before? Does it really get this dark so fast? But all in all, I am happy to be home. I feel like the semester was quite successful and I am really happy that I took the chance to go there. While looking at all the 1500 pictures that I took, it feels like I will remember all those great moments forever. (Ps. remember to take a good camera with you and take a lot of pictures! It will be worth it in the end 😉 )

Since this is my last post as well, I want to thank you all who have paid even the slightest interest to my blog! I hope it has inspired you to take an exchange in France or even Lille, I hope it has answered to your questions of what it is like to be here and I hope it has given some clue of what the heck I was doing all that time in exchange 😀 It was my first try in writing a blog and I feel pretty good about expressing myself in blog form in the future as well. If you have anything to comment or ask afterwards about exchange in France, do not be afraid to contact me since I would be happy to help and answer your questions 🙂

Thank you for reading, thank you for listening and thank you for sharing the exchange experience with me 🙂 Au revoir tout mes amis! Á bientôt! 

PS. Here some last pictures of the great Strasbourg Christmas market 🙂 And with that I wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year!

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Preparing for the leaving

So the inevitable has come… I cannot simply think anymore that there is still time. Quite indeed, it is time to start preparing.. I don’ want to say it… leave! :O

With anymore few weeks left and final tests approaching it is time to start thinking what needs to be done before leaving. Luckily, we had a meeting at school provided by IÉSEG about departure and it preparations. Four main things were communicated to us:

  1. To close your bank account in the right time
  2. To tell CAF housing subsidy organization that you are leaving
  3.  To close the electricity account when you leave
  4. How to deal with leaving you accommodation
  5. And for those who took and insurance from here, to deal with French social security

It was communicated to us that it is vital to not to close your French bank account right when you are leaving, even though you would fancy that CAF housing subsidy money to buy Christmas presents. This is due to the fact that there can still be wire transfers from CAF,  the electricity provider might take something out of your account quite late, especially if you have used more than 30€ that is the monthly payment. Moreover the accommodation might pay you security deposit around 1-2 months after you have left. Thus you need to agree a meeting with you bank at least two weeks before you go to ask them to close your account about three months after you have left and wire the money to you. I know this is a long period to wait but this is to make sure that all payments have been taken from your account and that you have received all you can receive.

With CAF the deal is that if you do not say to them that you are leaving, they will keep sending you money in blind belief that you are still living in France. This sounds like a good deal at the start, but if they notice you have already left months ago and you still receive money, they are going to ask you to pay it back. With interests of course. So don’t try to cross them 😉

Before leaving your accommodation you should tell the residence or your landlord beforehand with a minimum a month beforehand. So I advise you to book you ticket back home, or travelling tickets after exchange right after you know your final exam dates in order to be on time. What is more, the apartment you live in will have to be cleaned properly of course, since all the cleaning that needs to be done after you is taken out of your deposit. With the electricity contract, you can either contact them straight or ask your landlord or residence to help you close it so that you don’t pay for electricity after you leave.

With the ones who got an insurance here in France it was advised to get their insurance office and claim all the reimbursements well before leaving. This is to make sure that if more documented prove is needed or any bureaucracy for that matter that they could be done while in France and not when you are already in the other side of the world. But this is all practical things you need to do and they do not really prepare you for the fact that people tend to forget. This surprisingly surprising thing to prepare for is reverse culture shock.

You have been having the best time of your life, it is warm every day, you have a new group of friends and you really enjoy your life at your exchange. You have also adjusted to a new way of living and new way how things work. However, the leaving can come really surprisingly especially for those who are only staying for half a year. If you remember what the days after the few glorious days felt like with unsure feelings, bureaucracy and so many new things you have to get used to and learn, did you ever think that you might experience that when you get back home?

Indeed you might need to do some re-adjustment when you get home. You need to learn again how people behave, drive, cook or dress at your home country and might be even that there is a big political or economic change in your country that you haven’t heard of since you were not paying attention to the news of your home country. IÈSEG gave us some vital tips how to prevent a huge reverse culture shock when returning home:

– stay in contact with people from your home country

– take addresses of friends and others with whom you want to stay in contact after you leave France

– begin to visualize your return early: packing, saying goodbye, being at the airport, reunion with friends/family

– discuss your experiences with students who have already returned home

– keep an international perspective

– Finally remember that being flexible and expecting the unexpected helped you get through the difficult
times abroad. The same attitude can help you back home.

 

I also started to panic a little that this is going to end soon! However, thanks to IÈSEG I started to contact my family and friends a little and started to plan life after exchange such as look for internship. I have been missing cold and snow (I’m serious!) when I have been here so that should not be shocking when I return 😀 If you want to get the best of Lille and France before you leave you could for example try the local food specialties for example La Welsh, which is basically just cheddar cheese heated in the oven with bread pieces and ham in it and for a royal version and egg is included. Tastes better than it sounds! Or La Carbonnade Flamande which is beef pieces marinated and cooked in beer and brown sauce. Yum Yum! Of course, since we are living in the north of France the side dish is french fries. You will get enough french fries to fill your life french fries quota when you visit here, believe me 😀 You can also participate to the great wine tasting courses that International Club offers, such as I did and got to taste some incredible white wines from L’Alsace!

You can of course to a little travelling as well, when you still have time for it 😉  Since I didn’t get enough of Holland, I made a trip to beautiful city of Rotterdam which is just three hours away from Lille! In addition I went to Berlin with my good friend from Music and Media Management for four days! This was the only destination I flew to, but it was rather cheap with 90€ there and back and I think you can find even cheaper flights. I also joined International Club to visit to see the historic castles of Fontainebleau and Chambord and I really advice you to visit these spots if you are interested in history, arts and culture.  I heard that there was this dude called Napoleon that had lived there 😛 I also recommend you to take the audio guide for both destinations, since they give you vast amount of info and will totally pay back the 2,50€ 😉

I was also thinking of travelling to Luxembourg since it is close to Lille as well, but since I went to a farewell gala provided by IÉSEG and had some project to finish, I decided to leave it unexplored for now 😛 I will still go to the famous Strasbourg Christmas markets just before I leave and the weekend before that celebrate the Finnish Independence Day with the fellow Finnish people that also study here at IÉSEG 😀 I guess you could call that as preparing to get back to Finland!

That’s all for now! Until next time, that will unfortunately be my last post. Let’s not be sad about it thought but instead relive the amazing times that I have had here so far 🙂

À Bientôt mes amis! 🙂

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A little this and that

Hello dear reader! 🙂

I Have not wrote in a while and that is mostly because everything is going pretty smooth like referring to my last post. However, there are few things that I want to write about before the big “preparing to leave” and “actually leaving” posts 😛 In addition, I will be telling a little how has is gone here and what have I done.

Let’s start with the important ones! If I did not pressure it enough in one of the earlier posts; get a good health insurance!! This is vital and pays itself back in no time if you experience and accident or a medical emergency while you are travelling or just studying abroad. The IÈSEG School of Management gives you great guide on what medical expert to contact with your problem for example the C.P.S.U for your normal medical visit and even physiologists to help you if you feel down from home sickness for example.

However, even though all the medical and other processing is easier for EU students in the start of coming to school, it will not guarantee your medical expenses fully. It was actually quite odd that students that do not belong to the EU had to pay an obligatory insurance to a local insurance company, no matter if they had a travel insurance of their own. EU students however received a document that they are insured in exchange of showing your European Health Card. This document however does not work as a way of reimbursement of your health expenses but really just safes you from buying an expensive (even 200€!) French health insurance on your arrival. So, again, getting a good travel insurance from your home country is the way to go! At least in my case it has fully reimbursed my medical expenses of two doctors visit (23€ a visit!) and medicines included.

Another word of warning is that be on time for the tests! Not that I have missed an entry time of a test, but it is really strict here to show on time. Luckily, the school sends an email before the test to tell you the classroom it will be held and at what time you should come. The rule of the thumb is to come 15 minutes before the exam begins so that you have time to sit down and receive your paper before the exam time. And for me who likes to give extensive answers, I usually need every minute of the two hours test time.

However, a few nonfunctional points I have noticed about the exams here. First of all, the exam guidance and rules are given in French. This is okay to someone who knows it well, but when the topic is as important as the exam rules then I think an international school which has most of the courses in English should also prepare the exam rules to be announced in English. This would only be fair to the international students who are taking courses in English.

What is more, since the ending of this exchange is approaching it would not hurt to know how I have done in the tests and course that I have completed. The school has provided us with a link to an electronic platform to check your grades and even a meeting to come and see your graded tests, but the results are not yet online and there was not a single exam graded when I visited this meeting at school. In an email from the teacher, the furthest the grading can go is until February 2015, which is quite far and not to mention well after I have left France. There has been some guidance that failed course (which I hope I will not have) can be passed afterwards by special assignment etc.

All in all, we have to also think that there are a lot of tests and students to grade and only so many teachers. I am sure that they are doing all of their best with the time and resources they have. Just do your best with the first shot you have at it, so you do not have to be doing extra essays for your unfinished courses well after your exchange. That is not the souvenir you want to bring home 😀

What else? As maybe guessed, yes I have been traveling a bit again! The most amazing woman in the world (aka. my girlfriend 😉 ) came to visit me and we went together to see London and Paris (again, I know!) which are both really easy to get to from Lille with either bus or train. However, the Eurostar train that goes to London is rather expensive compared to the bus but you can always weight that out with how much money you have or how many hours do you want to travel 🙂 To make sure to visit as many capitals as I can I also took a quick trip to Holland with the International club and we visited Amsterdam, Utrecht and the famous windmills in Kinderdijik. Still going to go to few places in the near future especially since I have few weeks without intensive courses, but let’s keep those places a secret until the next post 😉

That’s all for now! As I prepare leaving home soon, I hope you are preparing to leave to your exchange 😉 À Bientôt!

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Smooth Sailing

“What should I do today? I should probably go buy some groceries and pick up some bread from the nice bakery across the store.” Then WHAM! Reality hits me! Somebody says something as slight as “ca va?” in French and I realize: “Oh yea! I’m living abroad!” 🙂

This goes to say that school and living here have really settled on me. I do not so often think that I live abroad anymore or that it is special to speak foreign languages like French and English. I am more used and more and more willing to use my French and practice it, even thought my skills were a little rusty at the start. There are also some meetings where you can practice your French, English, Chinese, Portuguese and other big languages and these meeting are called Language Cafès that the ever so awesome International Club organizes. What comes to school, I am also used to have early morning lessons with the intensive courses as well as have a presentation and an exam every week since this are usually how the intensive courses are structured.

It is not as bad as it sounds! Sure, the learning is rather fast paced, but the intensive courses are narrowed to more specific areas such as mobile marketing so you are bound to receive information about mobile marketing right from the start and not have to go through the 4 P’s or marketing over and over again. The constant flow of presentations have some positive learning experiences such as making you ready you to sell your product, practice your pitching, practice your English (and if you are taking French class of course your French as well 🙂 ) and most importantly train you for future presentations. Hence, take an attitude to make the most of the assignments to learn some vital skills in presenting your ideas and convincing people that you really are the best that’s out there! 😉 What I really meant to say, that even thought you might experience some degree of culture shock when you move abroad or that you think that you will never get used to the new environment, the fact is that you will! And I can most surely promise you that you will enjoy your exchange by the fullest. 🙂

What else has been going on? Well, I have traveled to Belgium to visit Brussels and Brugges and it is just crazy that it only takes 1,5 hours with a bus that takes you to another country! And by the way, did I mentioned that it only costs 11€? So if you decided to come here and have no weekend plans, travelling is my advice to you my friend! I also went to Paris (which is something of a seventh time for me!) with classmates. That is a city that I will never get bored of since you always see it in a different way. Also close to Lille with a travel time of about an hour! Also done some activities such as wine tasting course and bowling and I suggest that you stay active with your exchange since a semester is going to flow by quicker than you know!

That’s all for now! Until next time 😉 À Bientôt!

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The change in exchange

Hey again!

The title represents two things that have changed: almost all my original courses and the fact that I actually have more than one lesson a week! You guessed it, exchange is about school also.

Hence I had my first week with an intensive course. This is a lot like intensive courses at JAMK but instead of lasting for three to four days the intensive courses at IÈSEG last a week. So this means a lot of early mornings but it also means a good routine and sense of structure to your week.

What else has been different is that the lessons last a lot longer than in JAMK stretching up to almost three hours. Of course there are break in between, but the focus tends to be lost after so many hours no matter how many cups of the black gold you have had. Here is also of course room for some activities and exercises especially with intensive courses that usually have a group assignment such as presentation to work on during the week. In addition the intensive exams are held at the Friday of each week, so you really need to pay attention and participate during the week to do well on the exam at the end of the week.

I had also some extensive courses starting as well which are usually structured after the lunch break. Sometimes you have a good amount of time to eat in peace, but if you have for example a course starting at 13.10 after finishing at 12.30, you might need to hurry a bit since the lines at the popular AEU restaurants are usually long during lunch hours so it can take a good 15 minutes just to get your food let alone have the time to eat.

On a balance of starting school properly I participated in the International Club’s trip to the medieval church island (the best description that I could manage!) Saint Michel. This sightseeing is usually on the top to do- lists of people who want to explore more of France than the ever rainy Paris. In addition the trip included a visit to the stunningly beautiful Saint Malo with an option to kayak in the ocean! Being a former kayak expert I took upon the challenge even though the kayaking had restricted to sweet water lakes pour moi. You can watch a video summarizing the stay through this link. If you focus, you might just find me there also 😉

Some other activities that I recommend to do is to watch the most watched French movie Bienvenue chez les ch’ti which tells about a person coming from south of France to the “terrible” north of France with hilarious consequences 🙂 This video is perfect for a person who moves to the north of France 🙂 What is more, during the last weekend there was Local Heritage week end which meant that museums and sightseeing were almost all free to access and some monuments that are usually closed were open to public! Great way to get to know the inside of your exchange town besides the inside of bars and clubs 😉 Do also participate in the local football teams LOSC’s matches and have a taste at the local specialty moules frites 😉

Until next time! À Bientôt!

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PS. The thing with the changing of course was that most of the original courses that I had chosen to do were either not available anymore or I was dropped out due to too many participants. This might happen to you as well so be ready to think about some replacing courses. But do not worry! There are a lot of great options to choose from!

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First week and a bit more

Alright! I am pretty much settled! Now to share with you how has it gone 🙂

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I took a pretty early flight as I mentioned and I found it was good to arrive at the afternoon, even thought it was raining. So be sure to pack an umbrella! I was warmly welcomed by a member of the International Club of IÉSEG and that person escorted me to my rental apartment that will be my home for this semester. This club is sort of a group to help the new exchange students to orientate at their new life in France and ease the hardness of starting in a completely new school. The International Club had a form to fill in order for the students to be picked up only on the Monday of 25th which was the day proceeding the start of the orientation week. After a nice chat with my landlord I started to unpack and planned to find the nearest grocery store to make dinner. My apartment is a nice studio at old Lille or as in local language Vieux Lille

Here comes a warning: The start of your journey can be surprisingly expensive. Remember that you might have only an empty bed, table and a couple of chairs in your new apartment so you should probably find a nearest supermarché or and IKEA in order for you to get started on living at abroad. However, the first day was not only preparing and buying since the International Club had invited the exchange students for a welcome beer at a bar called Rendez-Vous, which is actually where many of them usually hang out 😉 I was dead tired of being awake 20 hours already but I decided to go since I am destined to make everlasting memories and friends during this trip and not just sit at home and sleep. I knew the first week was going to be hard balancing in wanting to participate to the social events organized throughout the week as well as have enough sleep in order to have focus on the informative lessons of the week.

The orientation week or the first week was full of activities, so to help realize the amount of activities, here is a picture of the schedule that we had:

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As you can see the days are long and filled with useful information. Even though the slides that are given in the presentation are to be found at the Optima of IÉSEG meaning IÉSEG Online, do not hesitate to ask questions from the person keeping the presentation. Be sure to keep close attention to the timetables as they might change in a minutes notice! Also the informative seminars that required extra attention were the CAF housing subsidy lesson and the bank presentation done by LCL. It is really useful to create a bank account with LCL since you need the bank information or so called R.I.B for many administrative matters such as filling the CAF application and for pay your rent. You also need to handle with the VISA and Social Security matters during the first week especially if you are not a student from the EU.

We also did activities outside the school for example pub crawl, eating eastern France’s local food Flammekuches which are like pizza but with potato and sour cream (I know it sounds weird but it was surprisingly good!) On Friday we also went through a city tour with groups of about ten people. Lille is really human friendly city, so you can basically walk everywhere and for this you should be sure to have good shoes that are made for walking!

One of the most interesting and exciting things about this school is that is has many persons from different nationalities. This year there are persons from 48 different countries so you can really learn from other cultures while studying and hanging out with your schoolmates. Do not hesitate to meet people outside your country or even outside your continent! I promise you that the learning experience will be worth it and you will then have friends from all around the world!

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And let’s not forget the big weekend camping trip that the International club had organized for us! The theme of this trip was to organize a Gallian type of weekend with outside activities and eating out. The weekend was full of sportive and fun activities as well as a big party at a club that was in the camping area 🙂

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I also had my first lesson on Monday the 1st of September about Marketing Management. But since my first week is including more free time than lessons, I will write about the school system with my second entry. Until then, tout á l’heure tout le monde!

 

 

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Génial! On y va!

Génial! On y va! Which is French for alright, let’s go! Picked that superb line from Mickey Mouse at Euro Disney. Hope they don’t hear me using it!

So it (almost) time to go! I’ll be leaving to Lille tomorrow quite early since I wanted to be at Lille around afternoon to get everything organized with my apartment on a Monday before starting school. I recommend this early bird- move to you also who is thinking of going on an exchange at France, since you might want to get your housing organized, buy breakfast and necessary items to your apartment before starting the orientation week. This is to insure that you can get full on absorbing that information that will likely be a lot on the first week. What is more, since I am taking the TGV train to Lille from the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport (if you don’t know who that guy is that the airport is named after you might want to look it up 😉 ) and since the Paris airport is notoriously slow and a bit complex especially to travelers who have not been there, my advice is to reserve as much time as you can. You’ll thank me later! 🙂

I am known to stress about what to bring and what to pack when I go abroad, but this time I feel rather relaxed about my journey. The IÈSEG School of Management has a pick-up service for the exchange students so they pick you up from the train station (see, even they think you should take a train!) and guide you to your apartment as well as help you settle in. What is more, this school has an interesting and well-timed orientation week schedule which seems like an information blast, but surely worth it. To help you make it an easy landing to your exchange place, try to find out as much as you can. I am sure that this will reduce the possible “culture shock” that you might experience. However, do also leave something to exploring while you are there and please do not Google Street View the whole town before you go. Please don’t. Just… no.

What to pack and what to bring? First of all: PAPERS! Print the schedules, contacts, your way to school on a map, certificates, learning agreement from both the home and host university (vital one!), list of what you have packed in case something goes missing, birth certificates in French that you can get from at least Maistraatti if you are Finnish (you are going to need it), passport photos and information about the host and home university. I bet there is going to be a presentation about oneself or the country of origin, so ready printed illustrators ought to do the job! All in all, France is a promised land of bureaucracy that sometimes does not seem to make sense, but if you are prepared from your side and follow the instructions given, you should be fine.

Also pack something to remind you of home: My trick was to take a bag of salmiakki, which to people outside Nordic Countries is the yucky black tar like substance that is also called salty licorice, and a dish brush. Why? Since I know they do not have those at France and I am surely going to miss them, so why not bring a little piece of Finland with me! Just wish I could also bring a cabinet for drying dishes…

So before you go, relax! The most important thing is to be open minded and ready to learn about the new country and the language, not to have a detail planned list of what to do during the exchange or have every hygiene product with you! If you also feel like you are bringing everything with you then you might not want to pack your whole life into the luggage. Instead think what the necessities that you need during this trip are and what could you just buy from France.

So I am excited and happy to go and wish all your readers a happy start of the fall where ever you may spend it! Au revoir! 🙂

PS. What about my housing problems? Well, as it should be one day before leaving, it is takes care of. I had to go through another agency again since the second one that I pointed  out on my last post (Les Etudines Pasteur) required a French guarantor or otherwise a year’s rent beforehand, so that was a no no case. Now I have I am going to an apartment by France Corent Students, that do not require a guarantor but require the months’ rent, agency fees and security deposit beforehand up to total a 1500€ before you go, so to those whose financial situation is not the strongest when booking an apartment this might be a lost cause. However, you might want to check their website here: http://www.francecorentstudents.com/ (good info in English to all you French beginners! Voilà!)

 

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Hello stranger! Or likely a friend.

Tattadadaa! For those who do not know me, I am Arto Koponen a second year student at JAMK University of Applied Sciences studying the field of Music and Media Management. And those who do know me might not have known that I was going to write a blog about my exchange in Lille, France. Greetings to both parties!

Reason behind choosing to write a blog instead of a report originates from many factors: 1. I have always felt like I should follow more blogs and maybe have a crack at writing one myself and now I have the opportunity 2. I hope this is an easy way for my friends and family to follow my journey through half a year exchange in France 3. And and mainly for those planning to do an exchange in France through JAMK in the future that this blog would prepare them or make the choice of studying in France easier.

In this blog I will tell about my experiences, hopes, challenges, successes and overall description of before, during and after my half a year exchange in France, Lille. And for those who do not know me so well I will tell somewhat my background. Hope you enjoy reading it! Now lets get more into why France and why Lille.

The exchange was always aimed to Europe for me since I see myself more in the business life of Europe, and more precisely Northern Europe. However, I am interested how music management and music marketing works in Central Europe so my exchange places were aimed for France and Belgium. Part of the interest to these two countries is the language as in French. I have studied French in High School and before that to a count or approximately 5 years but the interest to French culture, business life, language, culinary and the country has raised mostly from the summers of 2010 and 2011 when I was working in Disneyland Resort Paris amusement parks for these summers.

Now, I for those who are interested in studying at France and have maybe less of a French language background don’t get scared! I am not pointing out that you need to have perfect knowledge of French to even consider France but quite the opposite. If you have interest to learn more French even thought you have less experience, this is the perfect change to improve it! That’s how I did it. You thought that I had good skills when I first went to Disneyland? I was trying to remember what was left in French on my first days! However, by taking the leap of courage to learn French language and how French society works with everyday actions is the best way to learn about France and its language.

Moreover, I chose the IÉSEG School of Management in France for my first choice and luckily got in! My other choices were  in Belgium and France also but the IÈSEG in Lille was the most interesting and cannot describe how happy I am to have received and acceptance there. The school interested me for its interesting courses in management and marketing while also having many other intriguing courses for business and economy. In addition, almost all the courses are taught in English by native English speakers and business professionals! I was amazed by this and decided to make Lille my number one choice for exchange place. Lille is also well positioned in northern France for those who also want to travel in Europe during or after their exchange. The blog’s name originates from this positioning since Lille is main crossroad stations to many Middle European countries. Hence the ironic name Fast At a Passage where I will stay at a town that many people bypass during their journeys.

Lille

The preparations when applying to this school were rather easy since their course lists are simple and all the information about the school can be found at their website http://www.ieseg.fr/ Note that this school has a campus in Paris as well with same type of courses and infrastructure but I am talking about the Lille campus solely. You can of course consider Paris as your exchange town but for me it is a bit of a “been there, done that” factor. Be sure to do all learning agreements and send the papers in time to save yourself headaches and hindsight! After receiving an acceptance letter from the school (major yay moment!) I started to apply for housing. This is where maneuver hit a cooling device. You know what I mean.

The applying to housing started great, since I found a student housing option close to center and walk away from school. However since applying was done online there were some documents to be send. To a Finnish person the documents seemed absurd: last three pay slips, last electrical bill etc. but I send all the necessary files in time. However, the residence did not answer to my email enquirers about the files and the process and they updated their website between my application time so that I had to send the papers again with addition of more crazy documents especially from my guarantor. (Side note: guarantor is a person who guarantees that you pay the fees and rent on time if you somehow do not have the ability to do this yourself as a tenant. This is almost always required from a tenant in order to apply for housing) The end result to 1,5 months lasting waiting, calling to France and sending emails led up to a single email, and the first one I received from the residence, that mentioned that my application is denied. Denied?!? I had thought that the apartment was reserved for me! I tried calling back to ask what was the reason behind this cancellation but only reply I received was that the apartments have already been full booked. Bummer…

Luckily the residence’s service personnel guided me to another residence just across from the first one. I am now handling the papers of this housing application and will let you know how I finally received accommodation which I hopefully will.

I will tell more about the preparations that I see helpful before going to an exchange in France at some point in August but well before the 26.8. when my orientation week will begin. ’till next time!

Cordialement

Arto

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