Exchange semester at ESSEC Business School
University and Studies
I spent the warmest and the sunniest spring of my 20 years (for real - I had a chance to wear a T-shirt and shorts already in March!) in France studying at ESSEC Business School. This private business school is situated 30 minutes away from Paris in a charming suburban city of Cergy. In France such type of higher education institutions as business school is highly developed, and ESSEC is counted among the best ones. The school is located in a modern building with spacious classrooms, a two-story cafeteria, a library and numerous co-working areas. One class is 3 hours long with a 30 minutes break, similar to two classes at HSE. Every professor is free to develop their personal course programme and to choose the teaching format. Some prefer giving lectures while others encourage interactive projects. Most of the courses are taught in English, however there is a choice of French-taught courses as well. I am sure that after a semester laden with projects and discussions, the level of proficiency in Foreign languages reaches a new cosmic level.
Life in a Student Residence
ESSEC runs several student residences from which the student can choose the one that best meets their demands. I was living in the biggest residence with lovely common areas and a fenced private yard. In the residence you can study in co-workings, watch movies in a cinema room and throw parties in common rooms. On the territory there are a tennis court and a volleyball ground as well as an equipped barbecue area. I highly recommend staying at a student residence during the mobility program although some people prefer renting apartments in the city. When staying at a residence, you can easily meet new people since almost every night there is an event organized by students to which everyone is invited. You can be sure to always be able to find someone to watch a movie with on a Wednesday night or to borrow a pasta sauce from at 3 a. m.
Before coming to France, I had thought I would struggle with adapting to life in a new country but, hopefully, I encountered no problems at all. Even if you don’t speak French, you can easily do without it in France since all the information is translated into English even in metro. The daily spending in France is higher than in Russia but I had estimated the probable expenses beforehand. Luckily, you can do your food shopping at usual prices opting for seasonal fruits and vegetables (the season for strawberry starts already in April) and regional farm products (the famous French cheese).
Paris Being 30 Minutes Away
In my free time, I did not waste a single minute and hopped on a comfortable suburban train to commute to Paris. The trip to the Arc de Triomphe is precisely 34 minutes long. It is an impossible task to describe Paris within only one paragraph. It is an entire universe inspired by impressionistic strokes and enveloped in a scent of freshly baked pastries. In my opinion, Paris will be appreciated by everyone because the city is multidimensional and offers a variety of activities ranging from an exhibition of Exupéry’s illustrations to international business forums.
Paris is conveniently situated to allow easy traveling through Europe using any kind of transport all of which I tested during the mobility experience, an airplane, a train and a bus. In only 4 hours on a bus with a stop for chocolate pastries and hot beverages, we made it to Brussels where by chance we partook in a love-for-nature-themed carnival. High speed trains will take you to Germany where every city is unlike any other, where Munich will greet you at a Bavarian fair and Frankfurt will inspire you for future accomplishments. Taking a plane will get you anywhere, even to Morocco.
This semester abroad in France has truly been a magical period in my life that I will never forget. I will not simply be let to forget it by people who I met there. We keep talking, sending each other memes and planning our future gatherings. I am deeply grateful to HSE and ESSEC for this incredible experience.