International interviews : a Montrealer in Sciences po Aix

Today, we are interviewing Alexandre Savage, a student from the UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) and a fellow student of ours for this academic year. He gives us his experience as a foreign student, and shares some tips for new international students wanting to fully integrate the Sciences Po life. He also shares his passion for his hometown, Montreal. 

Melissa : Why did you choose to study abroad?

Alexandre : « First of all, it is a unique occasion that won’t come to me anytime soon. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, see new places and experience living in a different way for a while. »

M : And why choose Sciences Po Aix as a destination?

A : « One of the reasons was the location, the south of France is seen as a magical and poetic place to live in. The proximity to the beach and the second largest city in France (Marseille) have their roles to play. Moreover, I chose Sciences Po because after a little bit of research I discovered the quality and the reputation of the school in France. I thought that it was the perfect balance between a quality course and a quality way of life. »

M : What is it like to study in Montréal?

A« The schedule in Montréal is lighter as we have 5 courses of 3 hours each in a semester of 15 weeks. On the other hand, we must do more work at home. For 1 course of 3 hours you have 2 hours of reading each week and some homework. During the semester you will have an exam on the 7th week, one at the 16th week and a final paper that you’ll do at home. The nightlife in Montréal is on FIRE. This year it was ranked second best city to party in the world by lonely planet and number 7 by cities journal. The city is full of stylish cafés, bars, nightclubs, speakeasy (secret bars), rooftops and terraces. Snow, rain, wind, nothing will stop Montrealers from going out. And the good news is that the cost of life in Montréal is around 20% cheaper than in Aix. »

M : What are the differences between education in France and education in Montréal ?

A : « The big difference between our academic system and the French academic system is that we focus more on having a critical thought while here in France we focus a lot on references and facts. Our university system focuses on research and the formation of researchers while Sciences Po has a more professionalising approach. »

M : The perks of being a foreign student in France?

A : « All the discounts that we have as students are very nice ! (Train, Bus, Theaters, RestoU) »

M : What is your favorite thing about our School? About the city?

A : « The thousands of cafés around the city and the small scale of the town which makes the place perfect to meet with your friends anytime of the day just to chill out around a coffee or a beer. (most of the time around a beer though) »

M : Is there an aspect of Canadian and/or Montréal culture that you would like to share with your french friends?

A : « I’d like to demystify the misconceptions that people have when they think about Québec. A nation’s culture is not something that you learn or teach, it is a thing that you live and therefore I invite you to discover the province of Québec and more precisely Montréal. »

M : And is there a part of French culture that you will bring back to Montréal ?

A« I’ll bring back Thomas Shelby. »

M : Are you involved in any club or sport team here?

A : « I’m in the football team of Sciences Po Aix which is called La Pègre. »

M : Do you feel well integrated here? Is it easier since french is your mother tongue?

A : « Due to my participation in the football team and the fact that the language wasn’t a barrage for me, I think I could say that I feel fully integrated here in Aix. If I could give a tip to an international student, it’s that even if you don’t speak French very fluently, you must take part in an association if you truly want to feel integrated. After this, everything arrives step by step and at the end, you’ll be proud of yourself. »

M : What do you hope to get out of being an exchange student?

A« My biggest dream is to win the CRIT with La Pègre so I would have a great memory to bring back with me. More seriously, I’d like to leave knowing that I still have friends here in France. Creating good friendships with great people is for me, the most important thing in life. Nothing really exists without people to share it with. »

We would like to thank Alexandre 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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