My learning experience in France went beyond the classroom and my studies.

 
Thembani

My Studies

I’m grateful to the French government and the South African French Embassy in Pretoria for realizing my dream of studying abroad to a world class University. I left South Africa in September 2010 to start first year of my master’s degree (Master of Public Affairs) in one of France’s Grande Ecole, Sciences-Po.  My programme of choice at Sciences-Po (MPA) incites students to think critically and comparatively, and to question themselves in their professional choices. The different courses of the MPA, coupled with a study trip to Ghana provided me with a stronger understanding of the meaning and modes of public affairs in an increasingly globalised world. I believe that the programme will enable me to become sensitive to the new limits of public policy. Since the programme works closely with both public and private international actors, I believe that it will also open my horizons to the vast potential offered by competence sharing at various levels of government, and to the increasing synergy between private and public actors.

My French Experience

My learning experience in France went beyond the classroom and my studies.  I learnt a lot about the French culture, food, politics and bureaucracy. In particular, I learnt more about the language. Before leaving South Africa, I took French lessons with Alliance Francaise (I highly recommend for others to do so as well). However, when I arrived in France, I realized that this was not enough since my knowledge of the French culture and the language was very limited. As a result, I took a short French course, which also covered some aspects of the French culture. The short course helped me to find my way around and to be able to complete bureaucratic processes such as applying for social security and opening a new bank account. As the time goes on, I managed to grasp the language and to even explain to my visiting friends some aspect of the French culture.

I really enjoyed my first year in France, more especially the Parisian life. Paris is very beautiful, with lots of sight sightseeing to do but unfortunately there was not enough time to see all what Paris has to offer.  I also had time to visit Bordeaux, Dijon, Lyon and Nantes. I was also fortunate, through my residence at Cite Universitaire International, to visit neighboring countries like Netherlands and Belgium. I would highly recommend to anyone who is going to study in Paris to look for accommodation at Cite Universitaire, an international student village. Cite Universitaire has so much to offer, more especially in terms of cultural activities and extra-mural activities. Through Cite Universitaire I also learnt a lot about other cultures since it is a global village in its own right. Besides its beautiful gardens, Cite Universitaire offers administrative assistance to students residing there.

I believe that scholarship programmes offers a good opportunity and framework for  mutual learning anf for strengthening of bilateral relationships between South Africa and France.

A big thank you to the very supportive staff from the French Embassy.