Name: Tim
Programme at DSV: Strategic IT Management, Master
Semester abroad: HT14
University: Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne,
Land: France

Tim's Student Report from Paris

Why did you choose to study abroad?
I am already studying in a foreign country (I am German, doing my Master’s here in Stockholm). And this was an extremely fun and informative experience. And I thought, I could have the same experience again in a different country and at the same time refresh my rusty French a little bit.

What courses did you take and what is your opinion of the quality of the education at the host university?
I took the following courses: Enterprise Architecture and SOA, Modeling and Management of Organizational Knowledge, Models for IS engineering, Software and Web Architecture, and Network architecture and security. All of them were supposed to be in English, according to the homepage. But beware, the information is not up-to-date.

The quality of the lectures differed greatly between the different lecturers and professors. Some came unprepared and put some strange notes on the board. Others were decently organized with normal slides, and one even printed out the slides in advance for all the students. Similarly, the English proficiency of the lecturers varied greatly.

Did you get enough information from the host university prior to and during the semester? (course and welcome-pack and special activities for exchange students)
The organization and administration was not very good. This might also be, because the program I was part of (MIAGE - Méthodes informatiques appliquées à la gestion des entreprises) does normally not have exchange students. For example there was a Welcome and introduction week, with language courses and information about the library, for all the ERASMUS students at the beginning of the semester. On the first day, after the language course, I had a meeting with my ERASMUS coordinator in Paris, and I was told that my lectures already started that day. So I could not participate at the Welcome week (somehow, the lectures of all the other ERASMUS students started a week later). Or I have never been put on the mailing list, although asking for it several times, to get notice when lectures are canceled or postponed. So I was sometimes unnecessarily at the university, or missed some lectures.

Where did you stay and how did you get accommodation?
I stayed in a room a bit outside of Paris. I rented it privately through airbnb.com. I paid about 500€, for a room with own bathroom. I think the rents are slightly more expensive than in Stockholm. Beforehand, I also applied for accommodation through the university, but I did not receive anything from them. I can just give you as an advice, if you want the real ERASMUS experience and meet other international people, try to get a room in such a student accommodation somehow!

Did you have access to a library, study material and computers? Where you satisfied?
Yes, I had access to the library, but was just once there, because I did not need anything from there for my lectures. But it seemed to be decently organized and working. There were also computers there, but I did not use them, because I had my own laptop.

They have also a moodle-based platform for distributing the learning materials. I also gained access to it sometime during the semester, but this was another example of bad organization. I asked for it already during the first week, and got the access a few weeks later. During that period, I always had to ask other students to send me the slides, which was quite annoying and cumbersome.

In which language was the teaching conducted? Did you take any preparatory language course or prepare in any other way? How would you rate your knowledge of the language, and did you manage to follow the course?
The lectures were mostly in English, which was not a problem for me. Very often, the lecturers repeated what they said in French, because the English level among the students was horribly low. The university also offered language courses in French, but unfortunately they were all held, when I had other lectures, so I could not go to any of them. 

My level of French is not very good, so I could not follow directly when the lecturers spoke French. But together with the slides I was able to understand most of it, even if they were held in French (which sometimes happened).

But it was very difficult to communicate with the other students, also in group work. So you should really be able to speak French fluently, if you study there. This is just my advice, it is also possible without speaking French, but it is not much fun, also for social reasons.

Was the living costs expensive or cheap? To what extent did your eventual grant cover your expenses?
All taken into account, the costs of living are comparable to Stockholm. Groceries, food and beverages (and especially alcohol) is a little bit cheaper, but the rents are higher. I recommend you to calculate at least with 1000€ (including rent) per month, especially if you also want to do other activities, such as visit all the sights and museums. I received 375€/month from ERASMUS, so this helped of course.

In what ways do you feel you have developed during the exchange studies? (academic, linguistic, cultural, personal, etc.)
Obviously, my French has improved there. And of course I learned about the French culture. Academically speaking, I did not learn very much, compared to the effort I had to put into the lectures. The lectures often reminded me of school (in the sense of elementary or secondary school). In one of the lectures, I learned about a new modeling technique and for the rest of the semester, we just did exercises with that technique. This is not what I expect from master level courses. Furthermore, I did not have to read one scientific paper during the whole semester, but this probably because MIAGE is a rather applicatory-oriented program. Also, some of the topics I already had during the first semesters of my Bachelor’s. But not all is bad, some of the lectures were also interesting!

Do you have any advice to give other students who are looking to go on an exchange to the same university?
You should speak French fluently, if you want to feel comfortable and socialize with the other students. But of course, it is also possible to take the courses and the exams in English. Furthermore, I strongly advise you to look for a room in a student housing or in a shared apartment with other international people (this might of course not apply, if you speak French fluently). Additionally, you should know that the program MIAGE has quite a lot of lectures, and attendance is mandatory. Courses were always held from 9:30 to 12:30, and from 14:00 to 17:00. Often, there were also homework or group projects to do afterwards.