If you want to know more about doing an exchange semester in Paris, France then this is for you. Meet our lovely Alexandra and get to know all the in and outs of living in Paris.
A brief introduction about you.
My name is Alexandra, I am a second-year student at Estonian Business School specializing in International Business Administration. If I would describe myself by my close friends, then they would probably say that my very loud laugh is very influential to others and I am always there, If someone needs me. However, in the work and school aspect, I am a really hard-working, reliable and caring person. I like new challenges, wonderful people and spontaneous decisions, which life brings me.
What would be the 3 most interesting facts about you?
If I would not have chosen business school, then I would be in a culinary school, because I enjoy cooking.
I have travelled to almost half of Asian countries.
My biggest weakness is that I cannot say “no” to anyone or anything.
What country are you currently doing you Erasmus in? And how come you chose it?
I am doing my Erasmus in France currently. I had three choices while I applied to the Erasmus program. The first and second were France universities and the third was Prague. France has a special place in my heart with its beautiful architecture and wonderful cities.
Which school are you studying in and in what aspects does studying there differ from studying in EBS?
I am studying at ESCE International Business School. One aspect that you need to get used to if you come to France, is that organizing and getting things done is slower and might take some time. For me it is unusual at first as I am used to more quicker pace. So do not get angry if "coffee breaks" are taking approximately 2 to 3 hours.
I can imagine your exchange school has some fun classes. What has been your favourite class/assignment so far and what did you have to do?
The most exciting group project I had was in “Practices of Digital Marketing” and in it was the best assignment, I have ever done in my life. The professor was a real motivator to us to put in effort. Briefly, we needed to find a company that struggles in the digital marketing aspect and give our recommendations to them on what they can improve in. Lastly, we went so far with this project that we made a video of our group, where we showed our recommendations with humorous twists, and presented it to our course. Thanks to this project I have so pure and positive memories and the course gave me a lot of motivation to achieve my goals. The second course that I chose was “Universe of Luxury” and I can not agree more that France is the best place to study luxury goods and luxury fashion marketing.
You chose to extend your stay in France from one semester to a year. What was the reason behind it?
When my first semester was ending slowly, new friends were going back to their homes and I kept thinking by myself several times, that those 4 months went by so fast and I did not want it to end, so I was talking with my mother one day, and she said: “ What are you waiting then, go and find out that is there possibility for you not to end this journey yet”. And here I am! Of course I am so thankful for EBS, who did their best, that I could continue my journey here in France because initially the contract was only for four months. I do not regret the decision to stay here for longer at all.
What has been some of the difficulties while living abroad that you have faced and how did you overcome those?
In the beginning, of course, It was difficult to go abroad, because of not seeing your family and friends so often. In addition different school and environment. For me personally talking to locals was quite a challenge, they might not articulate in English that good. That's why I also took a French language course at ESCE. But right now I am quite used to it, that English is not a well-spoken language here, and with my beginners level French and Google translate you can do well here. In addition to not seeing your friends and family is that of course you will make a lot of friends during Erasmus and I always know that my family is always there for me if I need them. Each time If you feel sad, then after a nice and warm call you will feel much much better. :)
You have had a lot of fun experiences while travelling around France? What have been the most memorable ones so far?
I do not have certainly most memorable ones, each place where I went was memorable and fun! But If I need to choose 3 Top places/cities, which I visited during my semester, then they would be:
Normandy- Totally different from Paris, beautiful nature and views
Strasbourg- The most amazing Christmas Market I have ever been to!
Le Mans and Versailles- in Le Mans, I got the opportunity to drive with luxurious sports cars in 24 hours Le Mans racetrack, which is definitely a memory for life! Versailles will be my most favourite experience in Paris, because of its beauty and history. Still cannot believe that so enormous a building can be so pretty and amazing
Is there anything that amazes you about France and its culture that others might not have known about but totally have to experience this themselves?
French people like to live for enjoyment, satisfaction and enjoyable moments in life, so things and life are very slow here, that is one aspect. For example, their lunch and coffee breaks last for almost 1 to 2 hours, but for me, I would say that this is what I need. In Estonia, I had a pretty hectic lifestyle but in France, I have learned to enjoy life more and take things in stride. I am also personally the type who thinks through every possible scenario in my head when a decision has to be made etc. So France has taught me to live in the moment and life is also to enjoy small things.
Any encouraging words to students going on an exchange semester?
As my “Practices in Digital Marketing” Professor Kim said: “If you want to succeed in business, the network is everything”. I could not agree more. The opportunity to experience different cultures, people and environment is just an amazing way to grow personally. I would say that I have changed so much personally and mentally thanks to Erasmus and of course EBS for offering the opportunity. Erasmus changes you a lot, your thinking, personality and so on, and I can say that I am not the same person as I was back in Estonia. So If you are still considering on going abroad or not, then just pack your bags and go experience this growth and build a new family for yourself!