Campus France Student Testimonial: Exchange at HEC Paris

Written by Campus France Australia

30 May 2024

6 min read

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On Exchange to France from Australia

Allison studied at HEC Paris, France through an exchange at the University of Melbourne last year.

Campus France talked with Allison to hear about her time in France.



CF: Hi Allison, thanks for joining me today. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

OK, my name is Allison, I’m taking my master’s degree and my majors in marketing and communication. It combines with the business and arts faculty. So when I got to France, I took those two streams of studies.

CF: You went on exchange to France. Can you tell me when you did that and what you studied in France?

Last semester I exchanged to France and for six months and majoring. I take most of my courses in business faculty because HEC is a Business School. Mostly they offer the courses focusing on business but also they have something for communication. So I take the course like “practising communication” which matched to my major, and also I took a course to use Python to do a business analysis. It seems more like business side. So both sides helps me a lot and at the same time the professors they all come from different cultures both like in Europe and beyond. They shared a lot of experience about the business because they have done a lot of work in the industry. I think I got great practical knowledge from them which is a little bit different from my university here. Most teachers in UniMelb focus on the academic. In France, they gave me much more like practical knowledge and helped me to know how to apply this knowledge into the cases and the business environment.

CF: What made you want to go to France?

Actually I was born in Shanghai so in my hometown most people have like many romantic imagination about France. I really hoped to get the opportunity to travel in Europe. France was my first choice so when I got the exchange opportunity to France, I felt really excited. So I just applied immediately. And I was surprised it matched my faculty but very happy.

CF: Have you learned French before?

In middle school we had some courses for French for beginners, but we only have one course each week and also lasts only one semester. I just got very basic information and knowledge. But I still remember in that semester our French teacher helped us to get some like pen pals in France, it’s really interesting because that means some French children, they learn Chinese and would write Chinese letters to us, and I will write some French letters to them. I think this experience also give me great impression on France, so that might be the reason why I choose to exchange.

CF: What do you think you’ll do with French in your future? Even if you don’t continue speaking the language, do you think this experience at HEC will add to your future career somehow?

Yeah, because I found in my hometown there are many like French enterprises. Actually I took an internship with a French enterprise for marketing communication. I found it’s not very common to use French to work, but sometimes it is useful to know their habits or behaviour. When I was at HEC the business courses helped me to know how French people work with others. They might take meetings in a different way to Australia for example.

My French friends were also really welcoming. I feel they showed me a lot about French culture. Even when I went to their home for dinner, I find sometimes they prefer we should be 5 minutes late. It’s more polite. But in my hometown, we need to be there on time. But I feel this experience helped me to learn more about French culture. So even if I will not use French to work but the culture behind this language may help me career. Yeah, I think that’s the reason why I choose to go overseas study.

CF: Since you’re back in Australia, how do you connect with France still? Is there any way you still connect to it, like talking to your friends or like watching French films? Do you feel like you still connect with the country even while you’re here?

I still keep learning French on Duolingo, which might be the only way I use French now. I mostly miss all my friends, sometimes we will watch French film but with subtitles. Also [helping out at] the UniMelb overseas fair that’s might be the biggest connection with the France.

CF: What do you think is the most overrated French food? Like overrated.

French coffee. The most surprising thing is most people have told me is that the good coffee is in Europe. But when I got it, I feel [it wasn’t good]. I found they made [their coffee] really fast and with a lot of water, so it tastes really strange. In my last course I had a project with my tutor on the Melbourne coffee markets because my major is marketing communication right. We do research on unique brands in Melbourne coffee, really high quality.

CF: Do you have any final comments, that you think people would want to know about your exchange?

[In France] I learned we should be proud of my language because in my hometown we have language like Shanghainese, but seldom people will speak because most people change to speak like Mandarin or Cantonese or English because that is most spoken around the world. But in France, I find most of people will still use French to communicate with you. Even I ask with English, they will answer me with French. And I also learned a lot from like such a conversation with even the Uber drivers. Sometimes I learn a lot like French words because some French words cannot be translated into like English. Because it may change the meaning and like the cultural meaning. So, and just back to my hometown, I will keep speaking our language with my mom, with my friends, because most of my friends, they just speak Mandarin. [French people] are really proud of their culture and language which is good.

I learned a lot from this exchange journey, so you should do it too!

Campus France Australia

Campus France is the French govnernment agency in charge of promoting higher education and managing the reception and international mobility of students, researchers, experts and guests. The Australian branch is managed through the Embassy of France’s cultural department.

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