View into one of the lecture rooms

Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, France

Blog entry 3 – The proof of the pudding is in the eating

“You are not on our list of Erasmus students.”

When I heard this sentence, my heart was in my mouth! “Do I have to go back to Germany? Am I even allowed to study here? What, if I have to leave? But I have a signed learning agreement, does that not count?” These thoughts ran through my head, but in the end the only thing that mattered was to keep calm and wait until the nice employees of the International Office, which I walked into on Monday at the drop of a hat, find a solution.

As it turned out, I did not receive any information, because, in fact, I was not enrolled yet. Although my learning agreement had been signed, it has not been forwarded at some point. Luckily my process was sped up and already the next day I was allowed to attend a French language intensive course, which lasted for a week.

In the course I finally met other Erasmus students. Many of them studied French, but others also sociology, international business, or economics. Thus, the group is very mixed. I am the only social work student among the Erasmus students of USPN though and my courses, which I would attend from week two on, took place at the Bobigny Campus in a suburb of Paris. 

In the French course, I realized that my language level was sufficient for everyday conversation, but to follow and participate in a lecture is another level. I guess you just have to give it a try and try to understand as much as possible. On Wednesday, we went on an excursion with the course to the 4th arrondissement of Paris, where two students guided us through beautiful streets and showed us the library and other historical buildings. This was a good opportunity to get in touch with the other Erasmus students. Since everyone is new and looking for contacts, it is relatively easy for me to get into conversation with each other. I was amazed that we kept talking in French and didn't switch to English (or only in exceptional cases).

Especially in the first week, I felt super overwhelmed. There are impressions everywhere, and they are constantly coming at you. The language, administrative documents that I had to hand in later due to the mistake at enrolment, trying to make new contacts and friends, and therefore being present at as many Erasmus events as possible and getting settled in the new flat.

Also, people - there are so many people here. And yet I felt somehow alone among these people. I remain anonymous almost everywhere. In order to arrive and adapt to this big city, I found that it works best for me to just try it out and just do it.

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