France | Tips and Tricks


I just finished my last final paper, and with that this is indeed the end of my first semester in Paris. I will soon be traveling to south of France for Christmas and New Year’s. 

Fall 2017 in Paris was an absolutely wonderful experience. I loved every moment I spent here. The Eiffel Tower, city lights in night, amazing museums and breathing culture, wonderful classes and instructors, and more than anything, people I got to meet and to call friends for life. 

Saint Martin Canal

Usually, this is where the story ends for semester students. But I am, fortunately, a year-long study abroad student so my story will go on. I will continue to dance under the city lights and sing in the rain. But, I will be doing that with new friends next semester, or with same friends but in different cities. I don’t know where and to whom life will take me next, but I am super excited to find out. 

So, with this bitter-sweet note, here are things I wish I had known or had done differently in Paris. Things I wish you can do when you get here someday. 

Opera Garnier

1. Sim Card 

Even before I arrived in France, I knew I wanted to get a sim card from Free Mobile. However I waited until I got to Paris and bought one physically at its store for 19.99 euros a month. There was an online offer for 15 euros a month, and I could have had taken up the offer before I arrived since I already knew my address for Paris. 

  1. Travel More with Sun

I did not travel much in the beginning of the semester since I prioritized getting adjusted to Sciences Po and Paris more than anything. However, as time goes by Sun only gets shorter and shorter and more and more assignments pile over. First four weeks are the best time to travel indeed, before the actual Fall break, and I wish I had taken more of the opportunity to travel not only France but also other European countries. 

Louvre, 10 min walk from Sciences Po

  1. Museums and Cafes during Gap Hours

One of best thing about Sciences Po is its prime location at the heart of Paris. Louvre and Orsay museums are just steps away, and the school is surrounded by amazing cafes and brasseries. I wish I had taken more advantage of my 2 hours (2.5 hours if counting 15 min passing periods) gap and visited them more often when there are less tourists around. 

  4. Pharmacy and Medicines 

Most adventures in Paris are fun, but not all of them, including getting sick in Paris. Paris has an interesting system of local pharmacies covering every major block in the city, and each of them is ran by its own system, it seems. One proof of it is its price. Over the counter medicines differ in their prices range per pharmacy, not even per location. For example, I found a cold medicine at a pharmacy for 6 euros and for 4 euros at the one right next to the first pharmacy. City Pharma is the cheapest and one of the biggest pharmacies I had come across, and I wish I had learned about the place sooner! 

Crepe de Normandie

 5.Metro Terminals and mini-travels 

Traveling can become daunting when schedules begin to be crammed with many and many assignments. Yet day trips in Paris are not so difficult, thanks to the awesome metro system they have that extends out to nearby Ile-de-France areas. Many metro terminals end somewhere outside Paris, and just taking a random line to a random terminal can in and out of itself be a great adventure. It is part of France that I had completely overlooked, and I wish I had enjoyed more of it, especially on Thursdays when I had no class. 

Yet, fortunately, I am here for another semester, and I will get to explore Paris of Spring 2018 as well. I am very excited what the new semester will bring, and hopefully one day you can be as excited to come study in Paris as well. 

Thank you for keeping up with my blog, and for one and for all, bonne journee! 


Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Finals Week


Hi hi! Comment ça va? 

I hear it is finals week back at UCLA, and sadly, it is so here in Paris as well. So, in honor of finals week and the fast-approaching end of the semester, I will write this post on How to Survive Finals at Sciences Po. Hope this post is somewhat useful.  

 Unlike UCLA, where week 10 is the end of instruction and week 11 is the finals week, at Sciences Po, we have a gap week of no instruction between Week 12 and Finals.  

However, that does not mean you should bank on these extra days to procrastinate or travel.  

It was too packed to even go inside, so here is picture of our library when it was empty outside

The Gap Week, is actually one of busiest weeks for students at Sciences Po. Some professors prefer to make papers’ deadlines to fall in this week. The same deadlines may also go for group projects, and as you can imagine, meeting with your group gets more and more difficult as everyone starts cramming in for end of semester.  

Also, Gap Week is usually THE week of make-up instructions. A short-notice class cancellation is a very likely possibility at Sciences Po. And as I have mentioned in my previous post, at Sciences Po, each class cancelled must be made up to complete total 12 classes. Attending classes are important in general, but at Sciences Po it is an obligation as even those make up classes are part of mandatory attendance.  

One thing to be careful about is that those make up classes may not be scheduled for your regular class hours as well. For example, when my Friday French class was had to be, it was scheduled to be on Thursday 5 PM, a day I usually had no class at Sciences Po. Unless you have another class that falls in same time, you have to attend the class.  

My Make Up French Class on Thursday

In worst scenario case, your class might have to make up 2 classes during the Gap Week as you frantically study for your exams, and if you have already used up your 2 absences, you will have to attend those classes in whatever hours they are scheduled at in order to avoid automatic dropping from the class.  

So, it’s a good idea to save up your absences until the end. I for example had 3 make up classes during the Gap Week, but I was able to skip out of all of them and find me extra time to study.  

Three Classes for Gap Week

After the Gap Week is the Finals Week, but unlike UCLA, most of the exams fall on weekend instead of weekdays. The final exam schedule become available toward the end of the semester (meaning you should not book your flight back home until you have these dates available) and even professors do not know when they will be scheduled to. Most of exams fall on Friday, but some fall on Saturday as well, and official exam schedule extends to 21st of December, the following Thursday.  

Another tip for Finals Week is the reminder to complete online evaluations for your instructors online at your student webpage. The links become soon closed after Finals Week, and one will most likely not remember to do so after finals. Sciences Po takes evaluation very seriously, and missing out on those comes with repercussions. For both year-long and semester students, the grades from Sciences Po will delayed or, in worst case, not be released to UCLA, and for year-long students there will be penalties imposed on your next semester course registration. It is a very serious matter, so don’t forget! 

Feeling stressed? Well, at least Sciences Po has a free therapy: Marcel!! He is our campus cat, and usually hangs around in 13U building of Sciences Po. He is very friendly and you can definitely pet him if he lets you!  

Marcel sitting on my backpack as I was eating lunch

With this, I will leave you so that I can study for my finals. Good luck, everyone at UCLA, and good luck to me too! 

– Eileen Kim  

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Grocery Shopping


Hello! I have returned with list of grocery shops in Paris as I have promised. 

Shopping wise, prices can be ridiculously expensive. However, I have to say, the general living cost is significantly lower in Paris than in LA, especially if you know where to go. And here is a bit of list to help. 

(First Three, I am not attaching any pictures since you can find them anywhere in Paris) 

  1. Monoprix

It’s apostrophe brand mark is seen throughout the city, almost at every block and every corner. It’s like a smaller version of Target. They sell clothing and beauty supplies, but they also have huge grocery shops going on inside them. While some are comparably more expensive than others, they carry some groceries of their own brand and they are of great quality and price.  

  1. Franprix

Franprix is another super market, but this one is more exclusively about food and kitchen related articles. The price is usually a little bit cheaper than Monoprix, but not so significantly. Franprix too can be found all around the city. 

  1. Carrefour

Another supermarket, but a bit cheaper than Monoprix and Franprix, Carrrefour is the supermarket to go out of the first three listed. However, they are generally smaller and thus have limited products, and they are not as accessible as Monoprix and Franprix due to their smaller number of locations, at least as far as how I feel. They are mostly around residential areas. 

  1. Lidl

The cheapest place to ever shop food is Lidl, and it is basically a food outlet. Its products are cheap, sometimes about half the price as Franprix, and have great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. It also sells various items like bathrobes and sewing kits at cheapest prices on market, but those sales are only weekly and randomly, so it is not possible to make a shopping list in advance for those without weekly catalogs. There are only three Lidl locations throughout the city, I believe, and they are strictly restricted to residential areas. 

  1. Geant

Meaning Giant, Geant is French Costco. With its products ranging from TVs and other electronics to kitchen utensils to office tools to fresh grocery, there is nothing that one cannot find here. This is perhaps the best place to shop when settling in at your apartment for the first time. However, there is only one Geant in the entire Paris, and its public transportation access is limited to Tram 3a. 

  1. Tang Freres

Tang Freres is an Asian food market chain, and it has food from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam…. and the list goes on and on. Everything Asian can be found in this place, and the products are very cheap, especially compared to K Mart, a Korean market in center of Paris. The chain can be found in every arrondisement. But it may be bit difficult to shop here if you don’t speak neither French nor Chinese. 

Tang Freres at Porte de Choisy

So there we go! I generally shop at Lidl, but I also visit Tang Freres and Geant often for things that I cannot find at Lidl. I usually end up spending about $30-35 on grocery every week, buying things like tofu, fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, and packed snacks, and I cook all my meals, 3 times a day. Though cooking may be time consuming, but it is surely the cheapest way to eat in Paris, and, I dare say, once cooking becomes a habit, it is the best way to live Parisien. 

See you soon! 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Shopping in Paris


Love Paris but not sure about its cost? 

Well, I am here to make your life a little bit easier, and perhaps a bit cheaper. 

Shopping in Paris is definitely not like shopping in LA, and everything seems to be ridiculously expensive, especially when we are not trying to buy designer, quality products but cheap student get-by products. I had to go through quite a search to find shops within my spending range, and here are a few that I came to appreciate and love with all my heart. 

Me with My Fridge

  1. Leboncoin

This one is not an actual shop, but it’s French Craigslist of used things. Usually you have to pick up articles yourselves after communicating in French, but other than that everything is great! I got my mini-fridge through the website for only 40 euros and it’s working great. If I were to buy it new, it would have been about 120 euros.  

  1. Hema

Hema is like Daiso. Ranging from kitchen utensils to small snacks to house products, everything in this store is absolutely adorable and definitely affordable. I got some of my kitchen utensils like sponges, knives, and forks from the store, as well as some of my tea. 

  1. Tati

Tati is like a 99-cent store, but a bit more expensive and definitely better quality. There is nothing you cannot find here perhaps when it comes to life-necessities. Beauty products, clothes, shoes, light bulbs, kids’ toys… the list goes on and on. I got my 220v extension cords and my sneakers here. 

  1. Go Sport

It’s basically French Big 5, but its products range wider. Since France requires goggles and caps and non-bikinis, I had to go shopping for them here. I found my swimsuits for 3 euros each, but some were as expensive as 70 euros if I remember correctly. 

Free P Star in Le Marais

  1. Free P Star

In Le Marais area, there are many expensive stores, but there are also many second-hand shops for clothes. Free P Star is my favorite of all these places. While better quality clothes are nicely hung on hangers and displayed in racks, some cheaper clothes are also up for grabs in 1 euro bins. I have found my winter coat and a rider jacket for a euro each, and they are saving me from the cold every day. 

  1. Kilo shop

Though I just said Free P Star is my favorite vintage store, I have to admit Kilo Shop, another vintage store in Marais, is an absolute steal as well. Here, all clothes are weighted and marked according to their colored tags. The price as result is a bit more expensive than Free P Star in general, but they carry more brand or bit higher quality clothes than Free P Star 1 euro bin at affordable prices. They also have many bags and scarves and other smaller items that are harder to find at Free P Star. 

These are not only affordable shops in Paris either. IKEA, obviously, Primark from UK, and many other stores are out there to make shopping and life a bit easier. To add, the list here is exclusive for shopping list, things that we can often do away with. There are many other ways to get things we absolutely need to live in Paris as well, such as food. My next post will be about all grocery shops to go in Paris.  

Until then, bye bye! 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Traveling Through France


Hello again! 

Though I did make an excuse of Nervous November for my negligence of the blog, I have to admit, I was having a bit of fun here as well. 

One of best things I love about Paris is how close it is to everything, and how transportation systems are so well executed. During the semester, I travelled to three cities/region near Paris. 

First one I went was to Reims, a city in Champagne region. I have travelled together with other exchange students I have met during the orientation group. 

Second one was to Normandie Region, to Honfleur and to Mont Saint-Michel. I went with a student travel agency called To Be Erasmus in Paris. 

Last trip I went to Chartres with people from my dorm. 

Though I can spend hours and hours talking about each of these trips and about how amazing each place I visited were, I will just mention few things and leave the rest for you to figure out yourself one day. 

View of Reims from Train Station

The trip to Reims was during early October. Though it boasts of its Champagne, that is not all that this small but beautiful city is about. One is its Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims.  

Notre Dame of Reims

A Gothic masterpiece, Notre-Dame takes your breath away. A museum adjacent to the cathedral, Palais du Tau, is also worth a visit as well. More than anything, I fell in love with the city’s beautiful noise of life.

La Vesle

It’s a small city and there are many streets without much car traffics and every where people are walking. From any corner of the city, you can hear the church bell ringing, people talking lively at each retail stores, and river quietly flowing.  

It is a perfect place to escape the noise of Paris. I used FlixBus for 20 euros total for a roundtrip. 

The trip to Normandie was great. I travelled with To Be Erasmus in Paris, and it was a trip organized for students under 26 years of age. It was a full bus of 60 people, and everywhere we went was a party in good spirit. We visited many many places on the road, but I will just mention two places: Honfleur and Mont Saint-Michel. 

Honfleur is a very small port-town, but absolutely full of beauty and full of life that is unique to a port town. Just a step into the town, and there are boats lined up with fishermen selling their fresh produce right by them.  

Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune with its name coming from a monastery at its top. First built as a fort in 400’s, over the centuries abbey and towns and all its features seen today were added one by one. Walking up the narrow streets from middle ages, it almost feels like a time travel. 

The third trip was to Chartres, a relatively unknown small city, almost a town, near Paris. It is about an hour away with a train. It’s a city of cathedrals. Its main attraction is the Cathedral of Chartres, built in Romanesque style in 1100’s but rebuilt in 1200’s. Its stain glass, called bleu de Saint-Denis (left two below) is a mystery in its creation, and is still not replicable to this day. And there are many other cathedrals of unique beauty that you may have never heard of before. I personally loved Church of Saint Aignan, and below are some of its pictures (most right and horizontal picture at bottom). 

Paris is great, but I think true beauty of France can only be grasped outside busy city life getting from point A to point B. 

I will be off to another adventure during Christmas time. I will be visiting a small town near Bordeaux that no tourists know of. I look forward to sharing that experience with you! Good bye until then. 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Sciences Po vs. UCLA


Bonjour! Long time no see! 

 I have been crazy busy here in Paris with school and everything, and things got even more out of control during Nervous November. 

So, in honor of Nervous November, today I will compare UCLA and Sciences Po Schools. 

  1. Quarter/Semester length

It is 12 weeks long instruction + 1 week break in the middle + 1 week off before finals week + 1 week of finals exam. 

Fall Schedule Provided by UCEAP

  1. Number of Classes

At UCLA, we usually take 12-19 units for a full time, which is about 3-4 classes. Here at Sciences Po, we take 5 classes as undergraduate exchange students, with 1 of them being a French language class. Through UCEAP, we can take up to 2 courses as pass or no pass. Unlike most classes at UCLA, we do not meet twice a week. Each class is 2 hours a week and meet only once a week. 

Screenshot of a Schedule at Sciences Po

  1. Absence Policy

Because so, attendance is of tremendous importance at Sciences Po, and, in fact, a 3rd absence in a class is considered an automatic fail. An email is sent out as a warning after a second absence, and if the student ignores the warning and takes the third absence, the transcript will be marked with “delinquency” as reason of failure. 

Repeated tardiness is too considered as an absence, depending on professors. French politeness is very punctual, and you are considered late if you are not there at the minute the class is supposed to start. Three tardies are generally counted as one absence. Of course, there are professors who do not care about tardiness at all as well, but don’t count your luck. 

  1. Class Grading Scale

We are so used to letters and percentage scales, and we are conditioned to strive for perfectness. Well, not in France. The grading scale is out of 20, and 20 is reserved only for God, they say. 17 out of 20 may only be 85% for us, but it’s of the highest grade you can possibly get from a professor. Even that 17 is rare, and 16 should be considered as amazing. General rule is that 13 is about borderline A-. US I think we mark our points off. Here in France, they add up the point and you have to earn every point. 

Yup, don’t get frustrated with 17.

  1. Exams / Projects

I think at UCLA we are very used getting tested for your grades. Papers are often used too. However, at Sciences Po, the emphasis is placed on group projects and presentations. Almost every single class has a form of group project, whether it be a presentation or a project. Sometimes the groups are of your choice, but most likely they are assigned. What you have choice over, however, is the date of your presentation, depending on classes again. Nervous November is usually dominated by endless projects and presentations. So the key is to best manage your schedule during the first week of school so that no one week is of much hell to you. It involves a bit of competition and fighting, but I tell you, the victory is sweet and definitely pays off in November.

Title Page of my group presentation with 6 people

  1. Participation

Participation is generally a grading criterion at UCLA as well, but here at Sciences Po, it is emphasized even more so. Of course, not all classes are, especially if they are of big size. However, the smaller classes generally expect their students to be actively participating in discussions. Classes have less of reading and workloads than compared to UCLA, but students are expected to have attentively gone through the materials by the time of class.

Screenshot of one of my syllabuses regarding grading system

I have managed to work my schedule to my favor, and I have a very relaxed schedule when compared to many other exchange students. I wish the same for all you who may come study abroad at Sciences Po, that your November be peaceful. 

Good bye and happy Thanksgiving! 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Paris, Paris, Paris


There are many things the city is known for, and one of them is art. And the city for sure loves it. 

Every year in early October, there is a night called “Nuit Blanche”, meaning white night. I would rather call it a sleepless night. It is an annual event in which many museums are open all night and open to public, often for free. Metro line 1 runs all night to carry people and around every museum are crowds and crowds of people at restaurants and near street food vendors. 

I started my Nuit Blanche a bit late around midnight. Yet when I got off at Metro 1 station Hotel de Ville, the city was bursting with energy and light I have yet seen in Paris. 

There were food vendors everywhere, occupying every possible space in the square. There were sausages, sandwiches, and some other food I could not even name. The smokes coming out from each cart warmed up the night and satisfied customers hurriedly yet excitedly hastened their ways to museums nearby. 

I started my museum night with Centre Georges Pompidou, a contemporary arts museum at the center of the Paris. It is known for its exhibitions and its modern architectural structures, but it is also known for its view of Paris from its patio, which was my aim for the night. 

The pictures unfortunately came out a bit blurry, but the view was beautiful, beautiful enough to forget how cold the night was. The Eiffel Tower was sparkling at a distance, and the distance was filled with lights and sounds of crowded squares. And yet, standing at the edge of the patio, everything seemed so far away, as if I were standing at a border of another world. The fact that I was standing at the center of Paris felt like a very surreal fairy tale.  

After the museum, I briefly dropped by a nearby church that was hosting a contemporary dance exhibition titled “Children of Light.” Series of alternating lights in blue, pink, green, and purple dominated the church and all sounds became subordinate to the light and all that different light revealed.  

It was an interesting interplay of colored lights throughout the church with a couple of dancers at the center with very abstract style of dance.  

My last stop for the night was Musee de l’Orangerie, a museum in Tuileries Garden known for Monet’s waterlilies. There, at the oval room where Monet’s waterlilies surround the guests, the museum held music concerts for free. The tickets were supposed to be picked up in advance at the site, but I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to do so, and ended up standing outside for about an hour for an extra, no-show seat. I eventually made it in for 4am show, and it was a string quartet piece by Claude Debussy. 

The night was absolutely magical. The weather was cold, the lines were long, streets were crowded, and yet the city’s love for arts kept me going throughout the night, making even the long night bus right back home enjoyable. 

Nuit Blanche is when the city of Paris truly comes to its life.  

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Welcome Programme!


Overall, Welcome Programme was very helpful. But that’s not where it ends either. It was packed with most amazing people and entertainments. Here are some more highlights of the fun I had this past week: 

I.                     Scavenger Hunt 

To those who participated in UCLA New Student Orientation, this scavenger hunt will be familiar. It’s basically Carpe Noctem but during day time in the heart of Paris. 

All participating students are sorted into random groups of 10, and are given tasks to do at each location marked on a map. The race is 3 hours long, and the group to make it in time with most points win. Simple, right? 

All places marked on maps were very local places that many tourists would have never heard of. It was a great way to learn about Paris. 

In addition, the tasks at each place required active participation and creativity of all members, forcing the strangers to become friends by the end of the race.  

Here are some places we visited: (These are all major landmarks. Can you guess what they are?) 

II.                   Orsay Museum Tour  

Orsay museum is one of my favorite museums of all times, with impressive collection of impressionist works ( XD ). Fortunately for us students under 26 years old of age, it is one of many museums we can enter for free with a student ID card. 

View of Orsay Museum’s main hall

And even better for Sciences Po students, Orsay and also Louvre (which is just across the Seine River form Orsay) are only about 10-15 minutes walking distances away from school. Our student leader told us that Orsay hosts many events throughout the year in evenings and that many Sciences Po students come to enjoy them after their classes. Though Sciences Po doesn’t have a marked campus, because so it feels as if Orsay is a part of the campus. 

Though I have visited the museum couple times before, the tour was entertaining nonetheless. Like many museums, Orsay museum on its placards often only write of the artist’s name, year, and the piece’s title. For people without expertise in art like me, it is very difficult to fully appreciate art works. 

View of Montmarte from Orsay

The tour satisfied my urge to know more about the art works. It was in English, and our museum guide had a small mike which we could hear through our ear pieces. She told of behind stories behind Orsay’s most famous work pieces and its artists, giving us detailed contexts of each. 

 One new thing I have learned from the tour is that a bronze statue of standing ballerina by Degas is a duplicate. It was originally made in wax, and it was duplicated in bronze after Degas passed away. And all these years I thought my statue was originally made out of bronze!  

III.                 Wine & Cheese 

When I think of France, many things come in to my mind and one of them is obviously wine. It is a big part of the culture here; so big that Sciences Po held a Wine & Cheese night for us exchange students. 

We were assigned one of two sessions on a weekday night, and the event was held on the school campus.  

When I first heard of the event, I expected very little from it. May be a glass of a foul wine and some cheese that will run out by the end of the night? But to my pleasant surprise, everything was above and beyond my expectation. 


There was enough wine, both red and white, for all students to get second and third glasses of. The wine bottles were displayed so that students knew of what they were drinking and so that they can refer to the wine later. 

Some of prepared food for the night

Prepared foods were amazing as well. There were many kinds of finger food I never seen before, and they all tasted wonderful. Meat platters and cheese platters were very interesting as well, with kinds that I never really seen in the US. I remember that there was this one kind of cheese that looked like a flower, and no one knew of what it was – American, German, Peruvian, Swedish, Japanese…. No one knew what that cheese was but it tasted great and we all loved it! (Hindsight, I should have asked a French person…. But oh well.) There was more than enough food as well that students were welcome to go back for second and third. 

 These are but few events that were held during the Welcome Programme. Though its intense schedule may look daunting at first glance (I was appalled when I saw that events were scheduled even on Sundays) the programme overall was such a great experience. 

 I know where my classes are at, I know what to expect-ish, and I have friends to survive classes with.  

I am ready for school. 

Please wish me luck for my class tomorrow at 8 am.  I will see you all soon! 

Au Revoir 

4 Sept 17          


Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017:

France | Orientation


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:

France | Paris. The City of Light! The City of Love!


Paris. The City of Light! The City of Love! Fashion! Food! La vie en rose!

Planning to go study abroad is exciting, and even dull preparations become sources of joy in anticipation. During the process, my number one goal was to find a home I can call home in Paris. I was in fact a bit scared to hear about difficulties in finding housings, but counselors and friends repeatedly ensured me, and they turned out to be right, for I have indeed found a place just for me.

A picture taken at an exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou in July 2016.

Before I start talking about my dorm, I will have to point out this fact: you are not alone in your search. While the search for housing is indeed an individual responsibility, UCEAP does its best to help us. There was a brief meet-up session for Sciences Po, Paris, study-abroad session for UCLA students, and there our wonderful counselor Mauricio invited former students to give insights on what it’s like to be living in Paris – including housing.

There is also an UCEAP team in Paris to help and guide us as well on site. UCEAP has an extensive list of housing accommodation websites and organizations and has shared it with me with an input of which were most appreciated by former students. There are even more extra housing services one can get connected through Sciences Po as well. Add on Facebook, there are numerous options and opportunities out there.

And I have found mine in Fondation des États-Unis at Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

A view after entering through the main gate; front entrance of Maison Internationale, the main house.

Located in 14th arrondisement, Cité Universitaire, or Cité for short, at the most southern end of Paris, is a one big town for international students studying in the city. Cité was originally built in aftermath of World War I to create a peaceful hub of international intelligence for students, professionals, intellectuals, and researchers.

There are about 40 “houses” in this gigantic park, and each “house” is a dorm ran by its own government or its affiliate(s). Each house provides cheap housings for students of its nationality mostly, but keeping sacred the original intent of founders of Cité, each house provides 30-50% of its accommodations to students of different nationalities. Which school those students attend do not matter either so long as they all study in Paris. Though there are differences between each building, they all provide a single studio at a very low cost. For example, my room is only 500 euros, about a half the price of other apartments I was looking at.

Cité’s amazingness does not end in housing only. It is where students can truly immerse themselves in one another’s culture. People from everywhere picnic together and play sports together at an open grass area in the back of Cité, and almost every day there is at least an event organized: sports class, art classes, cultural events, tournaments, concerts, and parties. Some people even told me that Cité by the end of the year becomes a one big family. I cannot wait for it to happen to me as well.

Main Entrance of Fondation; access from Boulevard Jourdan

As I have said, there are various houses of different countries in Cité, and I happen to live at Fondation des États-Unis, the US Foundation.

Though it is one of the oldest buildings in the town of Cité, it is conveniently located at the very front, dominating over all other houses with its grandeur. At Fondation, kitchens, restrooms, and showers are shared among small group of people, and a student’ room is a single studio for everyone. My only complaint would be an absence of a mini-fridges in each room, but it is not such a big deal as well, given that a kitchen (which has a big fridge) is right around the corner of my hall.

And as I have pointed out, the Foundation is situated at the most convenient location. Cité is bigger than what many people imagine it to be, and it takes about 20-25 minutes to walk from one side of Cité to another. For security purposes, the gates to outside are limited and often locked, causing extra inconveniences during morning rushes. Yet the US Foundation is the only building at Cité with its own doors leading directly to the street, and even better, it is right across Tram 3 and RER B (both are forms of public transportations: trolley and local train respectively). For bikers, city’s public bicycle system called Vélib has its station right outside as well.

Cheap, safe, friendly and family-like, AND most know English. What better could I have hoped for?

To me Cité was the perfect fit and I knew it right away. Perhaps, and I hope, it can be so for others too. The application I believe was accepted in rolling basis, so early the better. I myself applied in February and only heard back in May. Many of students who were rejected from Cité often applied too late in their time and missed their opportunities.

Yet it’s not like Cité is the only good housing for students. There are many beautiful apartments around the city, some situated closer to school at the heart of Paris, some located high up near skies, etc. etc. Yes, there were still some students who were panicking about not securing a permanent housing, but the number (as far as I could tell from Facebook frenzy) has gone down drastically in last few days, and I am sure the remaining few will soon find places for them as well.

Well, honestly though, all I am saying is, I am super happy with my housing accommodation, and, yes, I am bragging .

If this sounds like a housing you would want to live in, check this link out for an application: Remember, it’s earlier the better. I applied in February and got admitted in May; many of rejected students applied too late in the process, around May or June. Good luck! Or as French say, Merde!

I will see you next with a post on Welcome Programme!

Good bye until then!



Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017: