International interviews : the French life from a South American point of view

Melissa is back at it again with a new series of articles : international student interviews ! Today, we are talking with Laura Gonzales who arrived a few week ago for this semester.

Melissa- Can you present yourself and your studies ?

Laura- « I’m 21 years old, half Bolivian half Argentinian but I studied in Bolivia. My major is focused in Political sciences and international relationship. I’m currently in my last year of undergraduate studies (in Bolivia, a licence is a 4 course) so when I will go back to Bolivia, I’ll have to start my thesis. My investigation is focused on political culture in indigenous migrants in my city. So after I finish my major, I really would love to work in some NGO’s that are focused in solving humanitarian crisis and social issues such as poverty, gender and migration as well. »

Melissa- Why did you choose to study abroad?

Laura- « Well I was thinking about studying abroad since I started my major. I’ve always believed that it gives you another vision of the world and also helps you to be open-minded in a very positive way. »

Melissa- And why choose Sciences Po Aix as a destination? 

Laura- « Sciences Po is known to be one of the best schools around the world. I chose Aix because it is situated in a small city and I like that, the environment is just so beautiful. »

Melissa- You used to study in Bolivia, can you tell us what it’s like?

Laura- « Studying in Bolivia is really hard, we have long schedules and a lot of homework but the teachers are so nice and they help you a lot with everything.

Life is really cheap, a person can live really well with 300 euros per month. La Laz (the city where I live) is very cultural so it’s easy to go to jazz bars, salsa clubs, concerts… It is very easy to travel, there are beautiful natural places not far away from the city and it’s not expensive at all. You can travel with 500 bolivares (50 euros) for a weekend.

The rent depends, you can find appartements that are really expensive and others that are not. I don’t have any problem with that because I own a house. But life is not expensive at all if you know which markets are the best and the cheapest. The night life is awesome there are a lot of bars and clubs that are amazing. »

Melissa- What are the differences between education in France and education in Bolivia?

Laura- « The education is really different. For example the licence is 4 years and we don’t have this M1 M2 system. »

Melissa- The perks of being a foreign student in Aix/in France?

Laura- « I want to work in the UN and knowing french is super useful. French people are nice, they’ve been super kind with me. Also it is very good for my CV. »

Melissa- What is your favorite thing about our school? About the city?

Laura- « Aix is beautiful. I love every single thing about it. The weather is not the best right now but the people here are nice and kind.

The school is nice, the classes are super interesting, and so are the teachers. They always ask me if I understand the class (especially the classes in French) and they help me to find books and references I might need.

Also the team at the exchange students office are great! Antoine Raimond helped me so much with finding accommodation and they provide us with everything we might need during these next 6 months. »

Melissa- Is there an aspect of Bolivian and/or Argentinian culture that you would like to share with your french friends?

Laura- « I can’t think of anything specifically right now, but believe that I can share my culture every day. »

Melissa- And is there a part of French culture that you will bring back to your country ?

Laura- « For now I don’t know, I’m learning about your culture, until now I found it interesting. I don’t know much yet, all my friends are international students like me so I haven’t met many french people yet. »

Melissa- Do you plan on getting involved in any club or sport team here?

Laura- « I would love to do something related with music (I am a musician) so it would be awesome but I don’t know much about it. »

Melissa would like to point out here that there is a music club, welcome to all students of the IEP ! You can contact the BDA or Club Musique SPX on Facebook for more information. 

Melissa- Do you feel well integrated here so far?

Laura- « Actually, as I said before, all my friends are international students like me so I feel good. I’m not alone, I get to discover the city with them, we do practically everything together. So yes, i feel integrated, I guess. »

Melissa- What do you hope to get out of being an exchange student?

Laura-  « Well I expect to improve my french, also learn things that are going to help me with my thesis and my career. I hope I can grow as a person, it’s the first time I’m living alone so i will also learn how to live by myself. »

We would like to thank Laura for answering our questions. We will be back soon to discover more of these students that walk our corridors but who come from half way across the globe ! 

Léa Pignot

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