Lyon, France l’Universite Jean Moulin Lyon III
Academic experiences at the partner school:
The classes are lecture based with a presentation or paper along with a final exam to
receive a grade. I took the classes in the SELF program and they were European
Business Law, European Politics, European Economics, and Cross Cultural Management.
These classes were generally unorganized and I felt that the teachers were not very
prepared for the students. Lectures were often very fragmented and hard to follow. It
was hard to learn from classes where the expectations of teachers were very low and
expectations of students were unclear. There is a lot less work than classes at Carlson
and I was surprised at how little assessment there was in class. This does leave time to
do a lot of traveling and see Europe, which is a benefit.
Logistics at the partner school:
I took the Navette bus to Lyon when I arrived at the St. Exupery airport. I do highly
suggest planning a flight that arrives during the hours at the University so that you can
check in there and be able to get into your apartment right away. Also, check out the
metro plan because there isn’t any reason to spend money on a taxi if you don’t have to,
though they are very convenient if you don’t know where you are going or what you are
doing. The metro stop for the school is Sans Souci and you can usually follow the
students to the university or there is a sign in the metro stop that points in the right
direction. Orientation wasn’t until a week after I arrived and that was just the right
amount of time to get acquainted with the city. Classes started a lot later than what it
says in the manual they mail to you. The manual is very incomplete and unhelpful. They
don’t translate everything and lots of times they don’t translate things correctly. You do
need your birth certificate to sign up for classes but I wouldn’t take the original and there
is no need to translate it into French like they said in the manual. I had my mom fax over
a copy of my birth certificate and that was fine. You will need about 7 passport photos
and you can take pictures as needed in the metro booths, unlike what they say in the
manual. However, do email them and make sure that it is ok, though my experience is
that it was, because the program and requirements can change.
I stayed at both La Cour des Muses 1 and 2. My impression was that La Cour des muses
1 is much better than La Cour des muses 2. I was able to have a room with a balcony and
two levels at “1” compared to a small one room at “2”. However, the apartments are
overpriced and if you are able to get housing with other French students, you will find it
is much cheaper for better accommodations. Also, I heard that La Cour des muses are the
best places to live as far as cleanliness and size. I guess, don’t plan on housing being any
less cheap or better than what you find around the U of M. Don’t plan on getting the
APL housing benefit unless you find a way to talk to the VISA people to get them to give
you a visa without the title “dispense temporaire de carte de sejour.” This title excludes
you from receiving the money benefit. There may be other ways to receive a housing
benefit but I suggest talking to the prefacture when you arrive in Lyon.
Meals were very cheap at the University. You could purchase a “carnet de dix” for the
resto-universe and generally the meals were decent. Otherwise, Lyon has many
restaurants and at a variety of prices and cuisines types. The food was great but can get a
little expensive if you indulge yourself too often. I found that the grocery stores were
cheaper than in the US and for sure visit the fresh markets every Saturday and Sunday on
the Saone. They are the best.
The metro was the best form of transportation. Buy a carnet de dix of tickets as needed
otherwise walking to school works too.
I would suggest getting involved with sports. They have a wide variety of sports that are
offered free through the university. It is a great way to meet French people and it is a fun
way to take up time. Also, attend the international student social nights that are planned
through the university. They are fun and usually mean that you can hang out with your
friends or meet new ones.
Host Country Culture:
The ladies that work at the International Office are fairly rude and will not help you solve
any problems that come along. I had asked for a “parrain” but never received one and
any dealings that I or other international students had were never helpful. The ladies
don’t or won’t speak English so be prepared to use your French. This can be a benefit
because you can improve your French but it can get frustrating when you can’t seem to
convince them to help you with the explanations you are trying to give in French. I am
still not quite sure how to get around this problem.
The French culture is not service orientated at all. So if problems arise, don’t expect
anybody to be solution orientated. If you need something done at the bank or with any
other business, don’t expect to have them make any efforts to solve problems. Try and
do the best you can and remember to stay calm and appreciative of any little effort
because they really won’t help you at all if you show your frustration.
I tried to improve my French while there but there is little opportunity because most
international students speak English and there are limited ways to meet French students
and it is hard to maintain a relationship because you will want to travel and your schedule
usually fits better to do things with international students. I wasn’t able to find too many
opportunities to use my French on a regular basis to see major improvements. I was able
to make a few French friends through university scheduled “soirees” and they were very
nice and I would speak French with them.
Also, I found that it was very hard to walk around in the street without getting harassed or
yelled at by men. I had problems with harassment and many of my friends did too.
There were even incidents of girls getting grabbed, touched, followed, or flashed. It was
very shocking and happened around the city and even in the Part-Dieu shopping mall. It
doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Don’t make eye contact with anyone and be sure to
just ignore anyone who is trying to get your attention and try not to let it bother you
because there is nothing you can do about it.
I felt comfortable at the university and didn’t feel like students treated me different in the
halls or elsewhere because I was a foreign exchange student. There are a lot of foreign
exchange students who attend the university. In class and at the apartments you will meet
a lot of international students and friends. It was a great opportunity to make lasting
friendships around the world.
There are many things to do in Lyon so you shouldn’t get bored. There are dance clubs
and other night life activities. You can also go skiing on the weekends in the Alps or do
some weekend traveling. Gare SNCF will help you buy train tickets and purchasing a
Carte 12-25 is worthwhile if you plan on traveling a lot. Otherwise, you can participate
in sports on campus or go to movies etc.
I would recommend taking around $6,000 if you want to do a lot of traveling and
shopping. In January there are a lot of sales so be aware of the temptation to take
advantage of cheap French clothing. However, it all depends on the kind of exchange
experience you want. I think that the more you can save for the trip the more
opportunities that you will be able to take advantage of and the more experiences you
will be able to have. There is a lot that you can do around Lyon so it isn’t that bad if you
are on a tight budget. I would say that $4,000 is probably the minimum to take on the
trip and that is not including any traveling and a $100 a month for fun.
You have to be independent and a self starter to go on this trip because if you want
anything done you have to do it yourself. You should be outgoing and a little daring to
maybe take French classes.
The visa application is at the website http://www.consulfrance-chicago.org/. Remember
to email them and ask them how to get a visa that doesn’t have the “dispense temporaire
de carte de sejour” on it. I don’t know if that is possible but ask as many questions to be
well informed. Ask about other housing benefits that they may know of that you could
pursue. I don’t know how much they will be willing to do for you but remember to email
questions one at a time because if you overwhelm them or bother them too much they
will not help you out at all or not answer your questions. This goes with the international
office ladies in France also.
I would recommend taking warm clothing and jackets because it is a lot colder than you
would expect during the winter. Make as many friends as you can and try to enjoy the
experience despite problems and frustrations that you may run into. Everyone has
different experiences and so you might not run into as many problems as others.
However, be aware that it is hard to solve any problems you may have in France and try
to be gentle because they are usually not willing to help you.