What’s the best thing about your university?

There is always something going on in Bordeaux. Its atmosphere is quite unique compared to other French cities. It’s big enough to have the variety of a city and yet strangers will strike up a conversation on the street. Among the Haussmann buildings are modern shops, bars and events and we’re only just starting to discover it’s arty side.

What unexpected challenges did you face?

Admin is the bane of your time on exchange. It does take up a lot of time. And especially when you’re in a non-English speaking country, it is important to pay attention to people who are trying to jip you. Not everyone is on your side. Keep in contact with advisors and other exchange students from home who can help. It can be frustrating to communicate with insurance companies, banks and university admin overseas but it will work out in the end.

What word of advice do you have to anyone going on exchange?

Don’t compare everything to home. If you do, it’s more likely that you’ll be homesick and miss out on new things overseas. Just because you were a star basketball player back in Sydney doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if your exchange university doesn’t have a 17 similar program. Same goes for food – don’t waste time seeking out difficult ingredients to recreate your home routine when you can try something new.

What word of advice do you have to anyone who is not sure whether they should go on exchange?

If you’re unsure if exchange is for you, then it’s best to put it on hold and think about it for an upcoming semester. It is a big decision to make, to leave behind Sydney life and familiarity for an overseas experience. But unpredictability is both scary and rewarding – there is a lot to learn from living in a different country. It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows but most likely there won’t be a time again for you when it is an option to drop everything and live overseas temporarily.

Antigone Anagnostellis