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Fall 2007 Exchange semester ESCP – EAP Paris France People have (PDF)

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									                        Fall 2007 Exchange semester
                                     @
                          ESCP – EAP Paris France


People have told me not to tell them so much about my Europe experience
because it’s not theirs. To respect their comments, I am limiting the scope of this
report to the basics and survival tips. I hope that they will help enhance your
Europe exchange experience if ever you wish to pursue one.

Introduction

Just a little about me before I go on. I am a fourth year business student
majoring in Finance and Marketing. In Summer 2006, I did an exchange at the
Chinese University of Hong Kong and it was a blast. That’s one of the reasons
why I wanted to go on another exchange during the last semester of my
academic career.

I chose Paris to do this exchange because I really wanted to practice and to
improve my French. However, I soon found out that it’s difficult to do so because
English can get you around the city just fine, and you hang out mostly with
people from the international program. Yet, by knowing a bit of survival French
before you go, you will be able to enjoy more of the city and its culture.

Things to do before you depart

There are quite a bit of preparation work involved with this trip. In essence, you
should begin your preparation as soon as you receive your confirmation letter
from SFU and your exchange school. Here is your Top 7 preparation list:

   1. Packing

For all of the girls who are reading this, please pack light. Paris is the fashion
capital of the world and I can guarantee that you will be doing a lot of shopping.
Therefore, it’s very important that you only bring what you will definitely wear.
Some staples that I can think of are:
   - Nice tops to wear when you go out
   - Few warm sweaters for the cool climate in October to December
   - A warm wool black coat

Euro is expensive, so budget wisely.
   2. Booking your flight

When you’ve decided how much you are going to bring to and bring back, then
it’s time to select your flight. There many airlines who offer flights from
Vancouver to Paris. Unfortunately, if you are going in September, none of them
offers direct flight.

Depending on whether you are a light packer or not and how much you are
planning to buy in Paris, you have two basic options: (1) go for discounted
airlines like Zoom, and (2) go for full service airlines like Air Canada.

Clearly, full service airlines given its price should have better flight schedules,
more pleasant service supposedly, more value added services and lenient
baggage restrictions.

I flew with Air Canada and my experience wasn’t that fantastic like you fancy.
The flight itself was around $1200 round trip, which in my mind was fair. At this
price range, you can choose among a broad range of airlines, such as British
airways and Lufthansa. I have chosen Air Canada only because I am a member
of its customer loyalty program. Everything went well, except for the fact that
they lost my luggage on the way to Paris. Even though they found and delivered
my luggage a few days later, they made no compensation for my misery of
living in Paris with no clothes for that period and was not apologetic at all when I
filed a complaint. Be warned.

   3. Buying insurance

You need to get travel insurance to apply for your student visa. It’s around $100
and you can get it at any insurance shop. However, you can cancel it when you
get to Paris because you are obliged to purchase the two mandatory insurances.

Upon your arrival in Paris, ESCP will ask you to purchase the mandatory Securite
Sociale for 198 Euros, which will cover you for any of your medical matters.
Moreover, they will ask you to purchase civil liability insurance for 10 euros. With
these two insurance, you are pretty much covered for all of your activities.


   4. Arriving

RER B and airport buses take you directly to city centre. Then you can switch to
Metro to get wherever you want to go. However, if you are traveling alone and
have a few suitcases to maneuver, I would recommend that you take an airport
shuttle for 25 euros max, which takes you directly to your lodging. I always go
for Parishuttle.com and they’ve been pretty good. Taxi will cost you around 50
Euros and the train and metro are around 12 Euros in total.

   5. Lodging

Accommodation was a nightmare for me and my roommates. It’s super hard to
find a place to stay, especially in September. So make sure your start hunting
early. You can try craigslist.org, Cite Universite, Vivaldi (school residence), local
agencies and ESCP intranet.

Your accommodation should be the biggest part of your budget because it is
quite steep to live in Paris. Rent ranges from 400 euros to 1000 euros depending
on size and location. I say anything within the inner city is good but is very
expensive. Try to avoid the 18th, 19th arrondisment because those are the shaddy
areas of Paris.

I would say that the ESCP intranet and craigslist are both good sources. I
wouldn’t go for agencies because some of them are unresponsive, and they
charge agency fees usually 50% of a month’s rent for their service.

    6. Getting around
Metro gets you everywhere. But it’s expensive. You can get an CARNET, a pack
of 10 tickets, or a Navigo for weekly or monthly subscription.

If you need to go anywhere and don’t know how to get there RATP.com has an
interactive map that will help you navigate through the serpentine metro map.
Did you know that Paris has over 350 metro stops?

Trains and cheap flights are your best friends when it comes to traveling in
Europe. Consider buying a Eurail pass, it will save you a lot of money. Traveling
in train is good because you land at city centres and you don’t have to worry
about getting to and from the airport. Eurail pass has to be purchased before
you come to Europe though and you can get one at TravelCuts at school.

Cheap flights are really inexpensive. The most popular ones are Ryanair, Vueling,
EasyJet, and SkyEurope. I love vueling. I flew with them to Barcelona for 50
euros return.


   7. Keeping in touch

Just a couple tips on this topic.
Make sure you bring a tri-band phone, so it works with the local networks. You
can get a SIM card from FNAC, the futureshop counterpart, for 35 Euros. I used
both SFR and Bouygues service provider. They charge the same but offer a slight
different package. SFR is by far the most popular and best reception, and
Bouygue is not bad too.

Calling home is expensive, unless you have SKYPE or a VOIP phone at home. If
you have an internet phone then calling home is free.

When in Paris…

Entertainment

Food

Restaurants
There are tons of restaurants of all ethnicities. Make sure you try a variety of
different cuisines and not just traditional French food. A guide book called “Pas
Chere” published yearly contains some affordable yet delicious restaurant
recommendations that you can use for reference.

Cafeteria
ESCP cafeteria, which opens from noon to 2pm, offers a decent meal for 3 or 4
Euros. Not bad for students on a measly budget.

Home cooking
If you are going to cook at home, there are numerous grocery market chains.
Their prices and offerings sit on a broad spectrum. For example, the cheapest of
them all is Leader price. Their products are not of the best quality, selection is
minimal and their service is terrible. On the other end of the spectrum, you have
Monoprix. It’s your one-stop shopping and you can find pretty much everything
for your household needs there. Obviously it is the most expensive. Of course,
there are Carrefour and Auchan, which resemble our good old Canadian
superstore.

Shopping

Can’t say much, it’s Paris and shopping is wonderful. You can shop anywhere.
Just note that most shops, with the exception of those in Le Marais, are closed
on Sundays. As a foreigner, you get 10% at Le Printemp, Lafayette, and Le Bon
Marche, the three biggest and prestigious department stores in Paris. Whenever
you purchase over 175 Euros at one store within one day, you get 13% VAT
(tax) back.
Entertainment

There’s always something to do it Paris. Check the local guides. There are plenty
of Museums, theatres, sightseeing to keep you busy during your exchange. The
first Sunday of every month, you get free admission to city-owned museums, so
make sure you take advantage of that. Of course, there are those crazy school
parties that you will find out once you get there.

Campus-Life

Academic details

Registration is done ahead of time and you will get a confirmation email from the
exchange office staff once you arrived. You can retrieve your courses info online,
once you’ve received the email confirmation.

In terms of difficulty, ESCP-EAP is easily I think in term of workload. For me at
least, all of my courses had a group project but no individual paper. Group
projects were done in group of 7 and all that was required was a 10-page essay
and a 20 min. presentation.

I took 4 courses all together and was more than able to manage along with all
the parties and sightseeing I did.

Leisure and cultural activities

There were some cultural activities organized by the international student group,
but not many. I think the most interesting ones were boat cruise on the Seine,
bike ride in the city and of course the Disneyland.

Conclusion

Fun. Fun. Fun. Nothing more to say. I am actually doing an internship here in
Paris at BNP Paribas Corporate and Investment banking, the largest bank in
Europe by market cap. I wouldn’t have found this internship if I didn’t study at
ESCP. I met so many great people from all over Europe and learned so much
more about the continent.

Exchanges allow you to expand your social networking through meeting people
from all over the world, instill you with new ideas from all the sightseeing you
will do and help you grow as a person in many aspects.

								
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