Switzerland Gemma Weightman 2

Opening Doors

Gemma – Semester Exchange to the Catholic University of Lille, France

Semester 2, 2016

The ACU study abroad program opens many doors. Not just speaking from a career or educational perspective, it also gives you the opportunity to explore the world and make all sorts of connections and friends along the way.

I am currently studying Arts/Global studies at ACU Melbourne campus and have opted to take part in the study abroad program for this semester. I am living in the North of France in a university city called Lille. It is really close to the border of Belgium and has a high Flemish influence. It really is the perfect spot in Europe in terms of cheeky weekenders away. We are an hour from Brussels, and just over an hour and a half to Paris and London too.

The academic semester begins on the 12th September and finishes up just before Christmas. It has actually worked out really well in terms of lining up with the Australian calendar. I (like most other students) opted to fly over a few weeks before the start of our course to do a bit of sightseeing. Semester 1 this year was a bit of a struggle as there was so much to plan and organise and look forward to for this exchange. It was all worth it however as I am here now and loving life.

It is a good deal really, leaving an Australian winter for a European summer. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Belgium and a week in Switzerland before my exchange actually began.


Switzerland Gemma Weightman  Switzerland Gemma Weightman 3

Here in Lille I am studying in the faculty ESPOL. Which is the European School of Political Sciences. All of the subjects are really relevant to my Global Studies degree back home and are really interesting and challenging. Thankfully all my classes are taught in English but once a week on a Thursday we have a French class for a few hours.

My subjects range from Brexit, German politics, EU politics, Immigration and refugees in the EU, and EU policy making. There is quite a mix. I will be interested to see how the semester progresses as I have about 12 subjects. It makes our 4 subjects a semester in Australia seem like not much but I assume that by having 12 the work load will not be equivalent to that of an Australian subject.

My classmates are also quite an odd bunch. Lots of Australians and Americans and a mixture of Europeans. Despite our differences we all get on quite well and are often sitting down over a coffee and having a heated debate or discussion about the varying political views and systems in our own respective countries.

My fellow ACU mates and I are excitedly planning our holiday and long weekend trips. Europe is all so compact and small in comparison to Australia. We don’t mind sitting on a train for a few hours if it takes us to a new country for the weekend.