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Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, France

Blog entry 4 – My campus in Bobigny

Bobigny is a Banlieu (suburb) of Paris. The Bobigny Campus of the Université Sorbonne Paris Nord is situated here, in the middle of an industrial area, between a hospital, gas station, a student dorm and car repair shops.In my second week of studying in January I was finally able to meet my class. And yes, I am intentionally saying “class” as we are only 25 students in my area of specialisation and take all courses together. My colleagues are between 18 and 24 years old, which is why in the beginning I had the impression I was put back into 12th grade.

Here, I am studying the course “DUT Carrières Sociales – Option Animation socioculturelle et socioeducatif”. With this two-year education one can obtain a “Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie“ (DUT) and subsequently work in the field of social work or obtain a Bachelors degree in social work within another year, that is acknowledged internationally. In our area of specialisation, we study methods of group management of different groups of clients, for example youth, children, people with disabilities or methods for health care. There is a focus on inclusion assistance for these people, but also on socio-cultural and educational social work.
For me it is especially interesting to get to know the French social welfare system with its similarities and differences compared to the German social welfare system.

When I was going to Uni on Monday, I was very excited. Luckily, the metro and the tram were right on time, and I arrived 15 minutes before the lecture started. When my classmates arrived, I had to find out that it was also a surprise for them to have an Erasmus student in their class from now on. They were all very interested and directly started singing the song “Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken”, which they learned in a German class in the past semester. This broke the ice.

All my subjects were in French which gave me a bit of a stomach-ache to be honest. During the first lesson I was surprised though, how much I was able to understand and that I was also able to take notes at the same time. During other classes, it sometimes was more difficult for me to follow. For example, if the lecturers talked very fast or unclear, or the beamer did not function and therefor no presentation was shown. Also, the weekly change in the schedule was not helpful for my orientation. Thus, the first study weeks were very overwhelming for me. There were many obstacles to overcome. I always had to remind myself of my motto: still be brave. Be brave to talk in French, to approach new people and introduce myself, to constantly ask, if I did not understand something. And to not lose hope when everything feels like too much. Luckily, I have very nice classmates who especially in the beginning took me by the hand and helped me orientate myself in the study program.

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