Last semester, I studied as an exchange student at EM Normandie Business School in Le Havre (EMN), France. Le Havre is a peaceful port city two hours from Paris by train and has less expensive prices than Paris. School classes are in English only, but for daily life in France, I learned French for four months before my departure from Korea.
|▲ All the undergraduate students of EMN including Jeong Seon-yul posing together on the very first day of the semester
Welcome Week for Exchange Students
The formal classes began two weeks after the semester started. During the first week of the semester, the school offered relevant support that helped exchange students adjust to new circumstances on-and-off campus. The members of the ‘Welcome Team’ guided exchange students to main attractions and communities around the school. This made it easier for us to access a bank or a market and other things.
The team also hosted presentation sessions for the students. Initially, we had time to present basic things we knew about France and French people such as eating a lot of baguettes and wearing a beret. After that, we downloaded an educational game application called “kahoot” and solved the quiz about France. For example, ‘What is the name of the French president?’, ‘What does the French flag mean?’ As the answers to the quiz were revealed, I could learn about France.
School and Daily Life
My school life was very similar to that of Korea, but the classroom atmosphere was freer and more active. All students did not hesitate to ask questions at any time during the class even though the professor was talking. And they naturally flowed into the discussion. At first, it was not easy to express my opinion but I became used to sharing my opinion with others as time passed. After school, almost every day there was an ‘Afterwork Party’ at a pub, organized by the student association. I often joined the party at first but later I was tired after class and did not.
Le Havre has a wonderful seascape and beach but there was no Korean market. So I went to Paris by train to buy some Korean food. Everything was much more expensive than Korea. Moreover, my studio had no washing machine, so I had to go out to do laundry for washing but it was terribly expensive. I had to pay five euros (almost 7500 won) for just one use. As the administrative process for opening a cell phone, banking and insurance is very slow, important tasks should be started at least three weeks in advance.
“Don’t Be Shy”
While studying at EMN, French greetings were the most impressive thing about French culture. French people kiss lightly on both cheeks while hugging with a sign of gladness when they meet. I felt strange about the French-styled way to say hello to someone, but I got closer to my friends by trying out this greeting. We also went to the most famous Japanese restaurant in Le Havre and ate sushi. I was surprised that the French love Japanese food so much and that they were so good at using chopsticks. I strongly recommend this exchange student program to you and if you go on an exchange, you just keep this one thing in mind. “Don’t Be Shy!!!”
By Jeong Seon-yul, Senior, Division of Culture Contents