Let’s Talk About University! My Experiences Studying in Dublin VS Paris
Recently on facebook I saw pictures from my old classmates that they had graduated college in Ireland. I had no idea that the graduation season was upon us already but congratulations to anyone who got their degree!
Unfortunately graduation isn’t really a big event in France. There’s no celebration where you dress up and wear the cute hats and old-timey cloaks. Nothing is really organised within the university as a big event, or at least not by the university anyway. You basically just finish your exams in May, hope to get your degree in the post over the summer and off you go.
Ive been studying in Paris for two years now and this year marks my final year. Today I decided to make a post about what its like studying in France since its basically taking up my whole life recently. Hopefully if any of you are thinking about studying abroad or are just curious, the post will help you out!
My College Experience in Ireland:
Of course I can only talk about my experience of college both in Ireland and Paris by tell you about my degree. In Ireland I was doing a TSM degree in Trinity College in languages and English literature but I took a gap year after the second semester before coming to Paris on an Erasmus.
Honestly I really hated what I was studying back in Ireland and it was really tough on me to do nearly 4 hours of commuting everyday just to get to and from Dublin. I knew since the first day I was in the university that I wasn’t going to enjoy my studies. I just had this gut feeling that I wasn’t on the right path and low and behold, I was right.
At that time though I was much too afraid to drop out and eventually the time passed where I wasn’t going to get the fees back if I quit. Not trusting my gut in this instance was a huge mistake because it meant that I had to wait the year out feeling miserable and as if my studies had no meaning. I really didn’t vibe with the way we had to write, research and footnote every single essay and my language classes were in English so there were so many reasons why the degree was just wrong for me.
What I’m Studying in Paris Now:
After taking a gap year from Trinity I did an Erasmus for the first semester of my second year and I was lucky enough to nab a place in a University in Paris. On my Erasmus year I really had the freedom to do whatever classes I wanted but I was only allowed to transfer if I stayed in a similar domain to my line of studies. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of my TSM degree I so happy to be able to alter it to my liking and to abandon all of the English literature classes that I didn’t like. After I transferred I was able continue my studies 100% through french. The licence I took up in Paris then was in Lettres et Arts which is a mixture of art, cinema, theatre and literature all in one programme.
One thing that’s so good about the college system in France compared to in Ireland is that you can change your path at any point. You don’t have to start over from zero if you want to do something different and I think that’s so great. Going to college in Ireland gave me and all my friends existential crisis on a daily basis because there was so much pressure to pick the right course so that you wouldn’t end up wasting years of your life and thousands of euros on tuition.
French University Culture Shocks:
There are no more lectures. The structure of classes is much more similar to what I was doing in high school. There are no lecture halls and most of my classes are in simple classrooms with desks and blackboards just like in school. (Lowkey, I kinda prefer this because the environment feels a lot warmer and it’s easier to make friends. Going to lectures felt very cold and very distant from the people in the room, especially because it was hard to chat during them because everybody was frantically taking notes. The college atmosphere feels a lot more chill in Paris.
The classes are extremely long. This is the major downside to studying in France and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that so many classes are over three hours long. A lot of the time it feels like so many things can be done a lot more efficiently than they are in the current system. Back in Dublin my classes were very dense but only lasted one hour and even if they were a bit more stressful, I still prefer to work really hard when I’m in my classes and then to go home and be free rather than having everything drag out.
The essay structure is a lot different. I don’t even remember how to write a college level paper for an English speaking university but what I do remember is how annoying it was to find criticisms to back up my arguments. In France they very rarely ask you to do that when you have an assignment and it’s amazing because you can really focus on the structure of your own argument and you have the freedom to use your own mind when you write.
Anti-capitalist, anti-right graffiti and artwork everywhere. There’s so much social support for people in France and it’s amazing, especially if you’re a student with no money. Also people really fight for their political beliefs and you can really sense that in the universities.
Protests. Even within the universities.
What’s Better About Studying in Paris: (aside from the obvious)
It’s free. You don’t have to pay thousands of euros or dollars just to get a degree at the end. More money to spend in Paris or on other french adventures.
Transport is cheap. I paid 350€ at the beginning of the year for my travel card and I can go anywhere in Paris I want, as much as I want.
The museums are free. With my student card I can get into The Louvre, Le Musée d’Orsay and basically any other museum in the city for free. That also means skipping the tourists queuing to buy their tickets at any major attraction in the city.
You get learn french really quickly and authentically. Trust me, your brain starts to absorb the language as a survival tactic and the more time you stay here, the more you see yourself speaking fluently in your daily life. Since living in France I’ve learned that no language can be learned from a textbook. Learning is all about living.
The only downsides about studying in Paris are that college administration is a bit of a nightmare and that the classes, as I said are extremely long.
Other than that though I’m so happy I decided to change my path in life and move to Paris. My college experience has seriously been so great thanks to my time in this city and if anyone is hesitating or unsure about studying abroad I’d definitely tell them to just go for it. This has to be the scariest thing I’ve ever done but it was totally worth it in the end.
Anyway I really hope this post was insightful for you. If you’re thinking about studying abroad I couldn’t recommend Paris enough as a student friendly city.
To finish this post I want to say that college can be really stressful in terms of workload but what really matters is how you make use of your time there. Also if you can study in one of your favourite cities in the world and make the most of your time there then why not?
If you are one of the people that just graduated, congratulations because you got through one of the biggest challenges both physically and mentally that one could face in their life. You’re doing amazing sweetie.
That’s all from me for now. Thank you guys so much for reading and I’ll see you very soon in our next post.