Erika Norzagaray
Dec 12, 2022

The beginning of an unforgettable experience - Exchange program in Bordeaux

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6 min read

Hello reader! I would like to begin by introducing myself, my name is Erika, I am a 21 years old Bachelor in Global Business student at Tecnologico de Monterrey university in Guadalajara, Mexico, currently doing an exchange semester at KEDGE Business School, in the beautiful city of Bordeaux, France.

Now you might be wondering how I ended up here, well, it all started at the beginning of 2022, a new year, new goals and new opportunities, I had always wanted to live an international exchange experience and fortunately my university offers the opportunity for doing so, going to another country to study abroad was a big goal of mine and applications for the Fall semester were coming up so I needed to start preparing, which meant I had to start looking at all the available options, comparing and researching to make a decision of which opportunities I wanted to apply to.

I am not going to lie, looking at all the different countries and universities available was a little overwhelming at first, I had no idea where to start or how to make a decision, but then I started asking myself, what do I want from my exchange experience? Whatwhat am I looking for in a university and in my country and city of destination? This wasn’t so hard to answer, personally I knew I wanted to go to Europe, as it is a continent that I had never visited before and which has a very dynamic and attractive business and cultural environment, I also knew I wanted to make the most out of this experience, so I wanted a country, a city and a university that were attractive academically, culturally and touristically. I saw KEDGE Campus Bordeaux and after looking at the school’s website, pictures and information about Bordeaux, I really started liking the idea of going to France and to this beautiful city.

I sent my application to my university and a couple weeks later I was successfully assigned there by my university, and so my dream of going to study abroad started becoming a reality and so did the planning and the questions, I am not going to lie I felt very lost at first with everything I had to prepare, booking flight tickets, the VISA application process, looking for accommodation, etc. I am sure all exchange students can relate. Looking for help and answers to all those questions is that I found Livinfrance and if you are reading this right now I can imagine you did too, I am no expert or know everything about living in France but I can sure share with you my experience of doing so and hope that it inspires you, helps you or at least entertains you.

My trip started with a more than 12 hour flight from Mexico City to Paris and then another almost 1 hour and a half flight to Bordeaux, I arrived as it was starting to get dark, I couldn’t help but feel like I was dreaming as I saw the city lights from the airplane window as we landed, at least I was done with the first task, which was getting to my destination the next important thing was getting me and my luggage which was almost my size to the hotel where I was spending the night which meant using the public transport for the first time, I remember how stressed I was about it in that moment, now I just look back at it and laugh as I picture myself looking lost with my phone and google maps in one hand and rolling my luggage around with the other hand, first two tips I can give you are preparing beforehand, you might not be able to get a sim card as soon as you arrive so make sure you look for directions on how to get to your accommodation from the airport, train or bus station, consider the available options, choose the one that is more convenient for you and save the route or directions you have to follow, another thing you can do is getting a travel esim, you can find many options online, they usually offer different packages which offer you data and connectivity for a certain day period, I recommend a small data package just to get you around the city until you get a sim card (you can find information about some great options in Livinfrance).

Using public transport was very easy, the bus stop was right outside the airport and there was a machine where you could easily buy tickets.

The next day I checked out of the hotel and I moved and checked in into my accommodation for the rest of the semester which was a studio not far from the city center, after leaving my stuff I went out to get something for breakfast, i ended up having a croissant and some coffee because being in France, how could I not? This breakfast made me and my stomach very happy and it also gave me the energy to start exploring and getting to know the city as I took care of important things like getting a SIM card.

Personally I got a SIM card at a Free mobile boutique and chose a monthly package without engagement, which you just have to make sure to request to prolong before the end of the month and you can do this each month until you leave so you have no need to go through a cancelation process which can sometimes be difficult.

As I walked around the city and started discovering beautiful places and spots like Saint André Cathedral and Pey Berland Tower, the amazing Grand Theatre, Place des Quinconces and Place de la Bourse to mention a few, then visiting and enjoying delicious wine at La Cite du Vin and making a trip to Paris, I couldn’t believe this place was going to be my home for the next couple of months, I felt beyond happy, inspired, motivated and thankful for everything that I was living and was going to live during my time in France.

I am not going lie and say it was always easy, going to a different and having to figure so many things to live there is overwhelming, my advice is don’t panic, fortunately now on days there are many resources and websites like Livinfrance which can help you figure everything from accommodation, to VISA procedures, housing insurance and aid, bank account and all things necessary for you to live a successful and nice experience in France; as well as experiences from other people like the one you are reading right now.

Being far  from home can be hard too and there can be moments where you homesickness hits you, this happened to me at the beginning, missing my family, friends and food back at home, but this feelings went away once I realized I was truly living a dream and I was very fortunate to be able to be living this experience and thinking in just a couple of months I am going back home so I should try to make the most of my time here and just try to enjoy and cherish every moment and that’s what I have done, during these past almost 4 months, I have met and made so many new friends, I have had the opportunity to study in a great school and learn from great professors, work and interact with classmates from all over the world, I have learned so much about the French culture and have had the opportunity to interact with local people, I have discovered the beauty of a city like Bordeaux and I have been able to enjoy amazing and delicious food.

As the end of my exchange comes closer I realize how fast time went by which is why I probably the biggest piece of advice I can give you is LIVE FRANCE, and by this I mean LIVE the experience of being in France to the fullest, don’t be afraid to interact with people, learn or improve your French, make new friends, travel, enjoy all the bread, pastries, cheese and wine you can, make memories, because time really goes by so fast and every single day counts.

Thank you for reading about my experience, I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it inspires you to either come to study and live in France if you have the opportunity or to live your experience in France to the fullest and with the best attitude if you are already here, I can guarantee you you will spend the most amazing time and make memories that you will wish you never forget, I really enjoyed sharing part of my experience and tips with you I hope you can help me share this experience with more people so please feel free to share and like this article if you liked it! Wish you all the best in your exchange experience and my best regards from Bordeaux.

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