Uduni Erasmus Series: KEDGE Business School in Marseille, France
Outline: An interview from Aiste, a Lithuanian student studying at Católica-Lisbon who spent one semester at KEDGE Business School in Marseille, France for #Uduni Erasmus Series. (#Uduni Series) #kedge business school marseille
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where did you go for Erasmus?
My name is Aiste, I come from Lithuania. At the moment I am a MSc student at Católica-Lisbon, and will soon graduate. The third semester of my studies however I spent on Erasmus in Marseille, France.
Truthfully, Marseille wasn’t my #1 choice, that was Bocconi in Milan, but I didn’t get a spot there. KEDGE Business School was my #2 choice, and there were several simple reasons for that. First, the school was ranked #30 in Europe in 2015 according to Financial Times. Second, it had plenty of marketing courses to choose from. Third, I wasn’t quite ready to give up completely on good weather and sea. I came to Marseille in September 2014 and stayed there a bit more than 3 months. The semester was very short, too short actually.
What was your first impression about Marseille/France? Love at first sight?
Before coming to Marseille everyone told me I was crazy, the only thing I kept on hearing was “Why are you going there? It’s so dangerous!” My response to that was always “Well, if I get robbed, raped or killed, at least it will be in a nice place”. That was my way of keeping it positive because I didn’t believe it was going to be so bad.
(Perhaps Marseille wasn’t the coziest place, especially at night. I guess the bad image got into my head. Hearing about shootings in the city center didn’t help either. Anyhow, I still believed that it was beautiful and charming, and didn’t regret going there even for a second.)
What were the most positive and most negative things you experienced in France?
There were a few negative things. For example, once while we were out in the city drinking wine and eating pizza, my friend’s bag got stolen, and the police were of no help at all. Also, of course, the Paris attacks. It happened to be that I had tickets to a concert in Paris only a few days after the events. The concert got cancelled of course, the atmosphere in the city wasn’t the coziest, yet that didn’t stop me from enjoying everything Paris had to offer.
Another thing that had both negative and positive aspects was Alotra, the residence I stayed in. It was the dirtiest thing ever! But at the same time I got to live with a bunch of cool people, so it was never boring.
Definitely a positive thing was the food, especially the cheese (even if makes your fridge stink like crazy) and all the sweets. And of course, the wine. Oh, the wine.
Indeed, France is so beautiful! Everywhere you go. The calanques in Marseille alone were worth a 1000 Likes. And they were so close to our residence and university that we called them “our back yard”.
And definitely the best thing – I met some amazing people who became my friends. We keep in touch and I’m so glad to have met them!
Studying in France, was it challenging? What surprised you most?
The classes at KEDGE weren’t difficult at all, at least in terms of workload. People didn’t seem to care a lot about classes: the attendance was mandatory, but once in class you could see everyone sitting on Facebook. A lot depended on the professor, though. Some were more demanding and quite tough at grading, and for the exams you needed to have read a lot of articles and memorized many details. Others were super easy-going and required only an online quiz. One thing that was new for me but quite popular in the university – online exams, where you have a couple of days to write and submit a paper.
The university itself was very technically advanced. For example, there was no conventional library, instead one could access everything online. Moreover, there were many student organizations on the campus, to the extent that it was hard to keep track of what was happening. The administrative part was very disorganized however. I had to change my study plan at least 3 times because courses kept getting cancelled.
And the location! The school is within a national park, I believe that says enough.
Did you enjoy your social life in France? Which kind of activities did you do in your spare time?
I spent most of my free time travelling, if I counted correctly I visited 11 other cities in France during those few months. There is plenty to see, and you can travel around cheaply if you don’t mind taking a bus. For example, I went to Paris by bus for 1€ (it took FOREVER, but I have no troubles sleeping on a bus). You can also travel cheap from Marseille to other countries, so I spent a few days in Barcelona and 2 weeks in Morocco. Morocco was amazing, it’s worth a separate article.
Then, of course, there were the usual things: parties or spending the day at the beach. Life was good.
What about the French? Have you got along with them easily? Many cultural barriers?
I didn’t know that many French people, since they don’t really mix that much with international students. Perhaps it is because a lot of them take only French courses, not English. And a lot of communication about what’s happening at school is just in French, so it is not really targeted at international students.
But I must say that French people party like crazy! The school parties were nothing like I have seen before. Let’s just say, everyone was nervous to see the pictures after each party.
As for the people outside university, almost nobody speaks English. And I don’t know French, so it would get tricky sometimes. But I had a magic phrase “Parlez-vous anglais?” Once you say that, people at least try put some effort to help you.
Another thing is the massive amount of bureaucracy. I have never had to deal with so many papers before in order to do simple things, like open or close a bank account.
THANK YOU FOR THIS INTERVIEW, AISTÉ!