Would you like to enhance your university experience by studying economics at a UQ partner institution overseas for one semester? If you’re an Australian citizen enrolled in our Bachelor of Economics or a B. Econ Dual Program, you are eligible to apply for The Jubilee Scholarship.
Elena Ryan did just that and she won it…..spending the 1st half of 2016 living in France, studying at Sciences Po, a small university in the center of Paris.
Elena found it particularly interesting to be studying economics and financial stability from within the European Union. She said “there was a lot of focus on the GFC and the European Debt Crisis”.
The small Parisian university organised a welcome program, through which Elena made a lot of new friends. She “met and made friends with students from all over the world, which made the university experience so much more interesting as we could all trade stories and culture from our different backgrounds”.
Elena rented a place in Paris and it was at the house hunting stage that she truly appreciated this scholarship. The monthly spending money she received as part of the scholarship (AUD $1K per month) covered most of her rent and allowed Elena to live in a comfortable shared apartment only a 10min walk from the university. She lived with 2 other students – a girl from Toronto and another from San Diego. She said “these girls fast became my closest friends on exchange and still keep in touch to this day. We had such an amazing time together; exploring every corner of Paris we could in our spare time and planning spontaneous trips from our kitchen to our other European dream destinations.”
Despite living with English speakers, Elena’s ability to read, write and communicate in French vastly improved throughout her exchange. She was studying it formally for 4 hours a week with plenty of extra work to be done independently. Her landlady spoke no English and Elena said “her visits were always a good challenge for us to impress her with our knowledge, as well as conducting all of our shopping, banking and phone organization in French.”
This scholarship from the School of Economics includes reimbursement for flights to and from the overseas county. On top of exploring Paris, throughout the semester Elena went on a trip to Amsterdam with a group as well as weekend and day trips to Caen, Brussels, London, Fontainbleu, Reims, Lyon, Berlin, Strasbourg, Marseilles, Cannes and Nice. At the end of the semester she followed this with 2 weeks in Germany staying with a friend who had come to Australia on exchange a few years ago. Elena says “this is why it pays to stay in contact with friends you meet overseas – free accommodation and local tour guides make the trip a lot cheaper and so much more enjoyable!”
Elena thinks the food in Paris was the best she has ever had. “Around the corner from my flat were a patisserie, two bakeries, a fromagerie (where you take slices of your selected cheeses), two grocery stores and a handful of excellent cafes and restaurants. My friends and I had the best time trying different places to eat every week, and even had a regular session we named ‘Delicious Thursday Adventures’ where we would travel to a new place in the city to treat ourselves to something decadent that we’d researched on foodie blogs, which also acted as an excuse to explore after we’d enjoyed our spoils.”
Elena went on to say “some of my favourite memories from exchange were the spontaneous picnics we enjoyed with a large group of international friends. We’d each bring some wine, baguette, a selection of cheeses, saucisson, olives, fruit, chocolate and the like and feast in style, either on the bank of the Seine near Pont Alexandre III over sunset, in the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower, on the grass at the Esplanade Des Invalides or on the rooftop terrasse of a friend’s apartment building overlooking all of the famous landmarks.”
Elena would strongly recommend going on exchange to anyone who is considering it – “you will have the time of your life being a tourist for 6 months and still be working towards your goals of employment and study. It is also a primary activity in the Global and Cultural Engagement category that counts towards the UQ Advantage Award.” She further elaborated, “my exchange has enabled me to learn first-hand about many different countries and cultures, expanded my skill sets, and increased my employability.”
Elena finished by stating “I am very grateful to the University of Queensland and the School of Economics for their generosity and support with my endeavor to study abroad. It made a great deal of difference and allowed me to get the most out of my time overseas so I can return having successfully completed my studies without any regrets.”
Read about the Jubilee Scholarship and the other scholarships on offer here