''You get to discover the world and broaden your horizons, it’s a totally rewarding experience.''
- Myriam from France/Syria
Why did you choose to study abroad in France?
Bathed in two cultures from childhood, moving around the world, experiencing different cultures and discovering new horizons has always been my thing. When I was in high school I heard about students in my class wanting to take the SAT test and study abroad in the U.S., but I was not that attracted to studying there. What I wanted to experience most was the European lifestyle and cultural mix. I used to travel a lot around Europe with my parents as a little girl, not forgetting also that the French language is one of my mother tongues, which also affected my choice a lot.
France seemed therefor like a top choice for me. French universities have a good reputation and the French capital is internationally well known for its cultural history. You can find a lot of student friendly cities as well. My university was in one of those small cities and I also got the chance to obtain a scholarship which made it easier for me to start my studies.
What is it like to be an international student in France?
Being an international student is a totally interesting and rewarding experience. I got to know so many interesting students and exchange with them about different topics, not just about studies. I still keep in contact with a lot of them, even now. You get to widen your perspectives and even tend to change your way of seeing things. Aside from the cultural mix, you also get to properly enjoy your time with others according to the real "Frenchie" lifestyle; drink a glass of wine at a cafe after courses or go to a club every Friday night.
How has studying abroad impacted your career?
The university I chose was small but used to hold regular meet and greets with business chiefs and directors which offered the opportunity to grow our network and explore the corporate world. The university participated as a partner in international networking courses leading to a European Master's degree, a double degree, or training abroad.
Plus, all French universities offer an Erasmus exchange program in collaboration with several countries. So, if you are an international student who came to France for studies, you can take the chance to explore another country for a semester and study in English. I remember wanting to take this opportunity in my first year of my Masters and try the Erasmus program which, back then, offered students to go on an exchange with Linnaeus University in Sweden. I applied and got accepted but unfortunately got scared of moving from France alone for some reason, and cancelled it last minute.
That being said, Sweden attracted me somehow and I am now living there and studying my second year of Master abroad by distance learning.
What challenges did you have to face with distance learning?
Internet learning has so many advantages when you are active and don’t like sitting for hours in a classroom taking courses. You get the chance to do more things apart from studying. It is also helpful when you want to work and study at the same time. You get your courses online, read them freely and write assignments. Depending on the university, you will either have to travel there for a final exam or do it on Skype. I personally experienced both, and the Skype examination was interesting to do.
Do you have any tips for international students to get involved in programs in France?
My advice would be to get as much information as you can, plan everything in advance and be well informed about all different possible opportunities. Applying to universities online can take time and be tricky, so be patient and make sure you prepare all requested documents before you apply. Sometimes it is hard to find your way on university websites so don’t be afraid to email and ask about specific information you need. Also, if possible, don’t hesitate to contact alumni students and ask them about the course you’re interested in. I once contacted an alumni student I found from the universities’ social media about a specific field and it turned out to be playful and helpful for both of us sharing experience. Didn’t regret it!