KMU Focus

Life as an Exchange Student in Grenoble, France

  • 19.03.26 / 박차현

 

I am an exchange student at Sciences Po Grenoble. I was about to apply for an exchange program in the United States, Canada, Britain, or other native Anglophone country. Yet if I had become an exchange student in one of those countries, it would not be certain whether I could take courses related to my major, which is Political Sciences. A professor recommended an exchange program to me that only students who study political science can enroll in. Sciences Po is the primary institution of higher learning for the French political and administrative elite, and one of the most prestigious and selective European schools in the social sciences. I am taking all my major courses in English. It is a really beneficial experience to learn a new language: French. If you are planning to apply for an exchange program, do not only look at programs run by the university but also look at those run by your department. It might be a better opportunity.

 

I have been in France for six months, and I want to share several of my stories with you so that you too can learn from my experiences.

 


First, I recommend you learn as much of the native language as you can. You may feel betrayed by reading this first tip, but language is a very important tool, not only for studying but also in your day-to-day life. At first, I did not take it seriously and I was not fluent in French. I started to learn French right before I arrived here. As time elapsed, I realized that I should improve my French, even to do small things like grocery shopping, checking my voicemail, and paying my rent. Since I speak English, I do not have any problems in class or in making friends. Yet, as you might know, there are not many people who speak English in France, even in places like the pharmacy or hospitals. If you think that being good at English is enough, just I did, you should learn the native language.
Second, enjoy cultural and personal differences between yourself and others. It is a great opportunity to meet friends from all around the world. At first, I was afraid my words and actions would be misunderstood. Yet we have grown closer by sharing our worries, our dreams, and our backgrounds with each other. It is better to spend time with friends from different countries and not just with friends from your own country even though you might be afraid to encounter different cultures or are even uncomfortable speaking English.
The more time I spend with friends, the less lonely I feel in a place that is not my home. It also helps me broaden my views and understand the differences between our cultures.

 


Third, if you are worried about the cost of living as an exchange student, I recommend that you find scholarships that are only made available to exchange students. You can easily find information on scholarships by simply googling “scholarships for exchange students.” There is also a substitute called “CAF” for all students in France. CAF, a governmental offering, stands for “Caisse d’allocations familiales” and helps students acquire a variety of different benefits and supports, such as dormitory expenses support or rent.

 

 

Finally, what I really want to emphasize is you should develop your speaking ability enough so you can at least express your thoughts in English. This is much more important than struggling to obtain a good TOEIC or TOEFL score; in real life, the more seamlessly we express ourselves,
the more we get along with others ―and the more fun we have. Even though you may not be a very confident speaker, do not be discouraged: just try to talk with others as much as you can. It will be hard at first, but as time goes by, you will know how much your speaking skills have improved.
As I was preparing to go on exchange, I thought about this a lot, so I know what you are thinking about and how you feel.
After living here for half a year, I have done my fair share of worrying but I am also happy and have precious memories that I would never have experienced were I to not have gone on exchange. So don't worry too much and try to do whatever you want. Even though you are not an exchange student, you'll never know unless you try it.

 

Youn-ju Lee
The Kookmin Review Guest Reporter
yoogju@kookmin.ac.kr

Life as an Exchange Student in Grenoble, France

 

I am an exchange student at Sciences Po Grenoble. I was about to apply for an exchange program in the United States, Canada, Britain, or other native Anglophone country. Yet if I had become an exchange student in one of those countries, it would not be certain whether I could take courses related to my major, which is Political Sciences. A professor recommended an exchange program to me that only students who study political science can enroll in. Sciences Po is the primary institution of higher learning for the French political and administrative elite, and one of the most prestigious and selective European schools in the social sciences. I am taking all my major courses in English. It is a really beneficial experience to learn a new language: French. If you are planning to apply for an exchange program, do not only look at programs run by the university but also look at those run by your department. It might be a better opportunity.

 

I have been in France for six months, and I want to share several of my stories with you so that you too can learn from my experiences.

 


First, I recommend you learn as much of the native language as you can. You may feel betrayed by reading this first tip, but language is a very important tool, not only for studying but also in your day-to-day life. At first, I did not take it seriously and I was not fluent in French. I started to learn French right before I arrived here. As time elapsed, I realized that I should improve my French, even to do small things like grocery shopping, checking my voicemail, and paying my rent. Since I speak English, I do not have any problems in class or in making friends. Yet, as you might know, there are not many people who speak English in France, even in places like the pharmacy or hospitals. If you think that being good at English is enough, just I did, you should learn the native language.
Second, enjoy cultural and personal differences between yourself and others. It is a great opportunity to meet friends from all around the world. At first, I was afraid my words and actions would be misunderstood. Yet we have grown closer by sharing our worries, our dreams, and our backgrounds with each other. It is better to spend time with friends from different countries and not just with friends from your own country even though you might be afraid to encounter different cultures or are even uncomfortable speaking English.
The more time I spend with friends, the less lonely I feel in a place that is not my home. It also helps me broaden my views and understand the differences between our cultures.

 


Third, if you are worried about the cost of living as an exchange student, I recommend that you find scholarships that are only made available to exchange students. You can easily find information on scholarships by simply googling “scholarships for exchange students.” There is also a substitute called “CAF” for all students in France. CAF, a governmental offering, stands for “Caisse d’allocations familiales” and helps students acquire a variety of different benefits and supports, such as dormitory expenses support or rent.

 

 

Finally, what I really want to emphasize is you should develop your speaking ability enough so you can at least express your thoughts in English. This is much more important than struggling to obtain a good TOEIC or TOEFL score; in real life, the more seamlessly we express ourselves,
the more we get along with others ―and the more fun we have. Even though you may not be a very confident speaker, do not be discouraged: just try to talk with others as much as you can. It will be hard at first, but as time goes by, you will know how much your speaking skills have improved.
As I was preparing to go on exchange, I thought about this a lot, so I know what you are thinking about and how you feel.
After living here for half a year, I have done my fair share of worrying but I am also happy and have precious memories that I would never have experienced were I to not have gone on exchange. So don't worry too much and try to do whatever you want. Even though you are not an exchange student, you'll never know unless you try it.

 

Youn-ju Lee
The Kookmin Review Guest Reporter
yoogju@kookmin.ac.kr

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