Adriaan Broodryk, South Africa

I am writing this to students who are thinking of applying to study in France, those who have already applied and are waiting in expectation and those who are already living the dream...

Where to start… You have been selected as a scholarship recipient from Campus France. You are probably a little bit nervous, a little bit scared, but more than anything, excited for this new adventure, and so you should be. Congratulations, you will henceforth learn the correct pronunciation of croissant, that everything in life is linked to food and that taking a bicycle to school is way cooler than the metro.

The last two years have been nothing short of amazing. Sure, there were tough times, but in my opinion, nothing that is easy is truly worthwhile. Living and studying in France has given me a better understanding myself and those around me. You will invariable get lost in translation, be frustrated with paperwork and sometimes curse the rain and cold winters, but none of these things get close to the fun you will have while living in France.

If you like art, history, nature, sport, music and above all, good food, you are in for a treat. France has so much to offer. There are so many organisations which you can sign up for which will put you in contact with like-minded people. I have made lifelong friendships in these two years and I hope that you will be able to do the same.

If I had to give some advice, I would say that making friends with French people will greatly enhance your stay in the country. Many foreigners tend to stick in groups of other foreigners, this is partly due to them being in the same situation and not speaking the language (I did so myself), but I realised that to get the best experience, it was necessary to reach out to other French students. Secondly, try to speak French, even if you can’t, but saying with a smile that “Je parle francais comme une vache espagnole” (I speak French like a Spanish cow) instead of asking someone to speak English, will normally illicit a friendly response and a willingness of the other person to speak English and help you out. Except for a few grumpy Parisians, the French are normally quite a helpful and friendly bunch in my experience and coming from South Africa (and I would assume especially Lesotho), will make you quite exotic. Use that to your advantage ;).

France and especially Paris, is quite expensive. Spend your money wisely, apply for the CAF and do your shopping at the bigger shops (Carrefour, E.Leclerc, etc). Take a bicycle if you want to save money on transport or walk and explore your surroundings.

Studying in France was quite different to what I was used to. It depends from university to university, but in my experience you need to get ready to do A LOT of work. Being late or absent without a valid reason will not be tolerated and the work load can be demanding. That said, the level of education is generally of a very high standard and you are fortunate to enrich your mind at some of the best universities in Europe.

There are so many other things I could talk about, but the list can go on forever. Part of the fun is also to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. By applying for this scholarship you have already agreed to this, so you should be fine. I wish all of you a wonderful and enriching stay in France.