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Name of the University: EPSCI-ESSEC, Paris Names of the students: Bendik Taarneby Gotteberg Exchange semester: Fall 2009 ESSEC is situated in a suburb called Cergy, which is some 45 minutes outside of Paris. The facility is fairly old, but some parts of the school have been renovated recently. The school has some 2000 students in total, including the international students. The study structure is at many levels equal to Norway, but French students use literature less. When revising for exams they normally just use the foils from the lectures, which I found a bit awkward. I didn’t encounter any problems before going there. The only bad decision I made was to go with SAS. They only allowed me one set of luggage that was 20 kg. This wasn’t enough thinking of I was going to stay there for a whole semester. I arrived in Paris a couple of days before the school commenced. I had decided to live at Cergy Le Haut, which is one of the student houses. There, I was met by ESSEC students that helped me settle in and to fill in some formulas. I can’t recall the exact date the school started, but it was a couple of days later. In the meanwhile the ESSEC students had arranged a small get together so all the international students could get acquainted. Additionally, we had been shown around the school and the campus area and some of the deans and professors had gotten to introduce themselves. The exam period was a bit messy. I had 9 exams because most of the courses were only 3 ECTS. Furthermore, we didn’t get our exams dates until one week before some of the exams. I went back to Norway the 22nd of December. There was a school reception/international office, but Tracy Moore, who was the responsible for the international student, was often gone away for meetings etc. In general I think it’s very important for a Norwegian student to know that the systems in general in France rarely work as well as in Norway. By this I mean every sort of system. Everything takes longer to process, even in the grocery store where often the queues are endless. It didn’t work any students in the reception. As earlier mentioned I lived in Cergy Le Haut, which I could recommend to every one. It takes some 10 minutes to get to the school with the RER (local train that goes directly in to Paris). Although Cergy Le Haut isn’t the most charming place on earth, it’s a great way to socialize with your fellow students. I met some of my best friends here. The rooms are clinical, but more than ok. I paid 600€ per month for the housing. Be aware, in advance they will probably tell you that you’ll receive something called APL/CAF (proxy. 200€per month). This is sort of a subsidy from the French government. All the students thought that this was something we were going to get during our stay. I still haven’t received a Euro from APL. Some students chose to live in Paris, but they got quite excluded from the rest of the students, especially since a lot of the parties were in Cergy Le Haut. Since you rarely need books at the university this doesn’t account as an expense. Food and alcohol are in general cheaper than Norway. I spend most of my money on the rent, which was unreasonably high. But bear in mind, Paris is generally even more expensive. I didn’t get the chance to promote Norway at ESSEC in any arranged circumstances. At ESSEC you get the chance to meet a lot of different people, most of whom are very intelligent and interesting. I still keep in good touch with some of my friends from ESSEC. Since I had some courses through French I got the opportunity to meet French students as well. There is even a bar in the middle of the school where students meet either during school or after. There were several student associations, but this was mostly for the French students. ESSEC has a lot of sport activities and you can join pretty much any team you want. They have got everything from fencing to taekwondo. There is also a gym, which is free in the university. In total I was very satisfied with the uni. The classes were fairly small; there were normally around 40 students in the classroom. This was perfect for me, and the students got the opportunity to interact with the professor. The professors were very professional and they were in general much better than the professors at BI at bachelor level. I had taken courses both in French and English and that worked out very well for me. These are the courses I chose: Geopolitics. I strongly recommend the course. The professor is marvelous. European Economics. It’s much more than a 3 ECTS course, the syllabus is bigger than a 6 ECTS course at BI. Need to have a decent comprehension of micro- and macroeconomics to take on the course. Union Européenne. A course about the European Union, very useful as an introductory to the EU. Recommended if you speak French. Mangement des forces de vente. Sales course, which was ok. Not the best course at ESSEC. Français avancé. French course that holds an ok level. The lectures were quite interesting. A French course is mandatory at ESSEC. Gestion des resources humains. Human resource management. Personally I didn’t like it. Financial Management/ Advanced corporate finance. Gets of fairly easy, but the exam was more difficult than what we had learnt in class. Entrepreneuriat. Introductory to entrepreneurship. A lot of the class is accounting. Advanced English. Had to take the course because I lacked a couple of ECTS-points. Nice teacher with interesting subjects, but don’t expect to learn anything if you’re an avid English speaker. The thing that really annoyed me is that French students can talk A LOT in class. This was difficult for me, especially during the courses taught in French. Sometimes I could not hear the professors talk at all. The workload was greater at ESSEC than at BI for me. This was mostly because a lot of the courses that supposedly were 3 ECTS were more like 6 ECTS courses. We had access to the school library. There you had access to the Internet. During my stay at ESSEC I had 17 presentations in total. This really improved my presentation skills, but the amount was a bit over the edge. The exams were based on what we had done in the lectures. They were all written and quite equal to the exams at BI. Conclusion: I recommend students with a good knowledge of economics to go to EPSCI-ESSEC. Some of the marketing students were really struggling. The social life is great, and the student associations are arranging parties every week. The university is also good if you want to get a glance of some political courses. The professors in the respective courses are great. But be prepared to the horrible French bureaucracy, things move slowly. Paris is also a wonderful city!
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