Shall we start with a little context first? How did I become a student at the University of London Institute in Paris? Let us back track to results day; without going into too much detail, what was a life-changing day for some was utterly earth-shattering for me. The prospect of going to ULIP came at one of the lowest points of my [then] 18 years. I had heard of the University before, I had browsed the website, I had read the course description, and I was intrigued enough to surf their Facebook page and yet I never really considered it at all until after I received my A-level results. The idea of starting afresh in a totally new setting - a whole new country at that and developing a second language became a lot more palatable to me. I was never able to attend JDR, regrettably (the hors d’œuvres are definitely the ‘ones that got away): we often focus too much on the academic side of universities but the ‘feel’ of a faculty and the city in which it inhabits is just as important and I believe JDR definitely allows you to feel that sentiment. Make the most of it, this could be your deciding factor.
My personal deciding factors were two things; the SU Blog and the efficiency of communication between me and Student Services.
If you have not yet checked out the SU blog, I suggest you do immediately (I mean if you are reading this I guess you have but I’ll leave it in for decoration). Unlike the official ULIP website the SU blog is a reflection of a student’s take on ULIP student life; it’s filled with starter tips, recounts/testimonies and key information. I am someone who enjoys reading other people’s work as much as I enjoy writing myself, so for me www.ulipsu.eu was a haven to manifest this enjoyment. Just to see students give such useful advice in such a friendly way was extremely welcoming. Also, being in communication with Student Services was definitely helpful, I was able to learn a lot more about the courses, and I guess, the technicalities of ULIP’s dynamics. Had it not been for a phone call with them, I do not believe I would’ve found housing before September 2016. Claire Miller is indeed a star, before I joined ULIP and up until now, I kid you not, whatever questions you email her she will respond with laser-quick speed. It would be an understatement to say that the ULIP staff are some of the most efficient and loveliest people you will meet, it is always appreciative when the level of care you take in your academics/student life is reciprocated.
I would be lying if I said that entering university for the first time, especially one that is abroad wasn’t daunting, but I really have to commend the older students for really trying to get us settled. [TIP: Interact with the current ULIPers; ask questions if you have a query, or just initiate a simple chat with them- they don’t bite! Who can tell you more about the University than the students themselves who are living the experience?] Freshers Week was a great experience, as someone who is not really nightlife enthused, I found the daytime activities lead by the BA3’s so fun. We met one day on the Esplanade in front of uni and played silly (yet bonding) games, like a peculiar take on your good ol’ traditional egg and spoon race, and it was just so warm and loving. The buddy system that is in place is also another great way that the current ULIP students were able to make us newbies feel much more at home.
So how has uni-life been so far? It is having definitely been a journey. Having ULIP be so small was one of my worries, I feared that I would not get the full “experience” but I was so wrong. ULIP has the same facilities as other standard UK universities; they a varying expansive range of societies, a resourceful library and access to other learning centres, trips that are organised, interesting extra-curricular activities, meetings with Tutors, counselling meetings, study meetings… they have it all. What I find amazing is that I recognised our size as our strength rather than a weakness. I feel a lot more connected to the students, the lecturers, the staff. Whatever worries you may have with class or other things outside of the academics, send in a quick email to a tutor, or a Facebook message to an allocated group chat and you are able to arrange a consultation, or have your questions answered in no time.
Living and studying in Paris, I feel like I do not miss a thing. As I’ve stated I’m not really a night-life girl but ULIP always has something going on each week to whet your thirst if you are the type who just needs to go out and let loose with a good group of friends. If you’re little bit more reserved like me, there is an abundance of museums, expositions, theatres and independent cinemas to visit in and around the city. I think that Paris was absolutely made for the young, it’s really great here.
Just to remind you that every type of experience will be unique to you, you dictate the type of journey you have. Coming from someone who had a slightly rough first few weeks, I urge you to be willing, open and free. Try everything, do everything, meet as many people as you can and [of course] study (you can certainly apply this rhetoric during JDR and your stay, it can act almost like a starter for the crazy wonderful life that it being a student in Paris). There is no better way than learning a language and embracing a culture than living in the very thick of it. I have learnt so much about myself living in Paris, and being at ULIP, having this independence, feeling this warmth and togetherness that only a university of this size could give… frankly, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Make the most of your JDR guys, get a feel, breath in the smog, take in the view [of us beautiful students], ask questions about the courses, do it all… and I hope to see some of you in September.
Chelsea (your dearest second year)