At Sciences Po, there is an orientation program available for exchange students (both undergraduate and Master’s) that is almost an equivalent of UCLA New Student Orientation. 

Welcome Programme at Main Auditaurium: Class on French Political System

Welcome Programme at Main Auditaurium: 

Class on French Political System 

It was a great way to get to know people, get into all necessary contacts, find friends, get adjusted to culture, be warned of French academic style, and in general have fun. 

Here are some highlights: 

I.                     Methodology Class 

Sciences Po by tradition puts great emphasis on oral presentation. Here, it is not about what you know and learn, but what you can present. Can you captivate people? Can you get people to participate in your dialogue? Can you stir up passionate debates? 

Due to such emphasis, most of classes at Sciences Po are not exam based. They focus more on group projects and presentations. Often, a grade for a class is determined solely based on one or two presentations. Yes, there may be midterms, depending on classes, but even those are to be written in the style of oral presentation. 

These were all from mouths of its current and past students as well as faculty members. When I heard all these, I was scared. Oral presentations and group projects were exactly what I tried to avoid at all cost during college. 

Thus, for me personally, a week-long methodology class came down as a blessing. In a group of 20 students, we were taught of the French “problématique” style by a Sciences Po professor who once used to be an undergraduate student at the institution herself.  

First two days were spent learning about the format and the structure of the French style. The second half of classes were practice rounds, getting into a group of two and presenting in front of the class an assigned topic. 

 Other than getting accustomed to the new academic style, the best part of the class was that it sometimes took its place outside. Not just outside as in the school’s courtyard, but outside as in the French National Library and the Louvre. 

Bibliothèque nationale de France

Imagine, hundreds of people passing by, maybe glancing at and listening to you as you give a 5-minute presentation at a corner of Louvre courtyard. 

View of Louvre Pyramid from where we had class at

It was such a surreal experience, forcing me out of my comfort zone but in the most awesome way. After this, I doubt I will ever grow as shy as I did at UCLA. 

Just a week of the methodology class has already changed me for better. I cannot wait to see what the actual classes at Sciences Po will do for me! 

II.                   Campus Tour 

Sciences Po, Paris, does not have a campus like that of UCLA. Its classrooms are scattered in 3 different buildings, each about 5-minute walking distance from another. And each building has its own specific name and references that only students know of. 

 I am the absolute worst when it comes to directions, and my first year at UCLA I could not walk from one class to another without GPS. Had had I not been introduced to the Sciences Po campus through a tour during the Welcome Programme….. I would leave that dark imagination for Eileen in alternate universe. 

Our group leader during French Speaking Class

Our group leader, a current student at Sciences Po, gave us a campus tour of all three buildings. She taught us how each building was referred to, and which classrooms were to be found where. Also walking in between the buildings, she pointed out many other useful things around the campus. One was a police station where all lost and found ends up at.  The relocated office of Student Health Center (like Ashe Center, but everything is free) was pointed out, and also were mentioned medical services we can receive at a medical school nearby. Other information included great restaurants and food stands nearby. 

Near by pizza place with great student price

Though it was not on the same day as the campus tour, we were also given a library tour. Sciences Po’s library is one of the best in its nation, with great accessibility to hard copy resources as well as e-resources even for students. Through a very entertaining game, we learned how to utilize all different services of the library, including how to print with student ID and requesting a book for research. 

Props used for Library Tour game

Please continue onto Part II! 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017: