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Studying at Sciences Po in Reims, France was one of the best experiences in my life. I was exposed to knowledge and skills which were new and others which were greatly improved during my time there. The faculty includes people from many different academic and professional backgrounds most of which are willing to help their students learn! The school’s Political Science Major is particularly strong which was one of the reasons why I chose it. During your courses, you can be exposed to a great variety of both theoretical and practical tools. The campus is also beautiful. It is small but new, very clean, cosy, and comfortable. The campus is strategically situated just outside of the city’s centre, meaning that students can benefit from a more quiet atmosphere but easily access the more lively parts of town. If you want a mixture of both, a nearby park offers nature and a sixth-century abbey! My favourite part of the campus, though, was the library; new yet incorporating still its original 18th and 19th century elements, it boasted thousands of books all waiting to be explored.
The student body of Sciences Po Reims was very international and made up of extremely determined and committed students. The campus did not host many students, approximately 500, so we were all able to come together and act as one big family. Most students came from Europe and Africa, since the campus hosts programmes specialized on these continents, but there were also students from North America, South America, and Asia all studying abroad in Europe and France. The students made sure that they banded together in associations regularly holding many types of events for different causes. The sports clubs were also very diverse, offering rugby, tennis, and much more. Finally, students organised events about town regularly. Reims may be a small city, but it still has a fun nightlife to offer; students created different clubbing events featuring music from different students’ areas of the world.
Studying can be a financial hurdle for many students. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to make studying in Reims, or anywhere in France for that matter, less of a financial burden for you. Firstly, there are scholarships offered by Sciences Po but also other universities in France, such as Montpellier Business School, which can help the student directly with their tuition fees. Moreover, the French government offers scholarships and other funding aids for both European and non-European students. Don’t forget to apply for the “CAF” (allocations familiales) which can also help cut your housing costs. It cut my rent in half! Groceries, transport, and bills are usually not a big expenditure, but never forget to show your student card and ask for a student discount. Often the institution will have one!
I lived in a semi-public housing institution called “CROUS”, created only for students studying abroad in France. My building happened to be new, which was fantastic, but older buildings are quite good too. I thought it was great because it provided a student with everything they need, comfort and safety included. It had studying areas, a little café, events were organized, a gym, dance and yoga classes were provided, alongside much greenery.
France has a reputation for amazing food and drink, and the hype is all real. Reims, in particular, is the capital of champagne; it was the site where champagne was first made and now hosts among the highest number of champagne caves in the world. I myself lived right across the oldest established champagne house, Ruinart (1729). It was a pleasure to see and smell the grapes being harvested and to watch the workers prepare the champagne. You can visit champagne caves whenever and get private tours. In fact, on some Sundays students go for free! The food is also great. The city’s specialities include lots of seafood. I have a sweet tooth, so I made sure to delight in Reims’ crêperies, macaron shops, and tons of charming little bakeries!
What I loved about the weather in France was that the feel of the seasons was so strong! Fall was fall and spring was spring. It can rain a lot in Reims because the grapes need it. However, when spring comes everything blooms and is so fragrant. Get ready for some picnics in the park with baguettes and cheese!
Language is a big part of what the French hold dear about being French. They will really appreciate if you make an effort to speak French with them. Plus, French is such a beautiful and useful language. I would definitely recommend taking the time to learn as much as you can of it!
There you have it! Studying in France can be a phenomenal experience in so many ways; with the right preparation and mindset, you’re sure to enjoy it!