My name is Camelia Hajji, I’m a Junior studying Finance and Business Economics, and I’ll be your Study Abroad Liaison in Paris this semester. I’m currently studying in HEC Paris, one of NYU Stern’s partner schools around the world, through the International Business Exchange Program (IBEX).
Despite the misleading name, HEC Paris is not actually in Paris. The school is located in a small town called Jouy-en-Josas, approximately an hour away from Paris. In fact, I was quite surprised when I realized that the car that was supposed to take me to HEC was driving away from the hustle and bustle of the city, towards quieter and greener suburbs. I quickly understood that my life here would be extremely different from the one I have back in New York: no ambulance siren to keep me awake at night, no shopping spree as a study break, and no endless list of food places to choose from. Instead, a – very pretty – closed campus, with a lake in the heart of it and large areas of greenery all around. Quite worried at first, it only took me a few days to understand that this isolation from the rest of the world has allowed the student body to build a strong and unique sense of community. At HEC, students are each other’s best resources: different activities are offered every day, ranging from dance classes to Rhum tastings. I personally chose to join the Football team… and broke a toe on my first day (side note: healthcare is extremely cheap here!).
Between House Party and Night Club
As mentioned earlier, Jouy-en-Josas is no Downtown Manhattan. There aren’t a million clubs and a trillion bars to choose from, but there are also no bouncers and no need to pretend to be older than you really are to enjoy a glass of wine. Students here seem to have found a happy medium between house parties and night clubs: every Thursday, a group of students organizes what they call a POW (Party of the Week), which is basically a theme party with unlimited supplies of alcohol and food, great music, and all sorts of activities based on the theme of the night. As for the other days of the week, there are two student-run bars that are open until early morning, where people usually meet after class to chat over a beer or two. Once again, students are each other’s best resources, as they make sure that being in the middle of nowhere will in no way stop them from having fun.
A semester in HEC is split into two, and students take different classes during each half. For the first half, I am taking Marketing, Advanced Corporate Finance, Inside Venture Capital, and Mergers & Acquisitions. As intense as these classes may sound, I can confidently say I have never studied as little as I have here. Most professors have another job that takes up most of their time, meaning they do not give out syllabi, do not assign homework, do not offer office hours, and can cancel classes whenever they want to, leading to a complete lack of structure. For the three weeks I have been here, I have only had five days of classes, so as much as I would love to tell you more about academics, it will unfortunately have to wait until I have a better idea of what is expected from me here.
Paris, Ville de l’Amour
Originally from Morocco, I have had the chance to visit Paris many times as it is only a 3-hour flight away from home. However, living here is a completely different experience, as it has allowed me to discover places that I would have never known of as a tourist. In addition to its breathtaking monuments and gardens, Paris is full of treasures, including countless romantic café terraces for people to sit and enjoy the present moment. Parisians live at a slower pace than New Yorkers, and will use any ray of sunshine as an excuse to delay whatever is on their to-do list and wander around instead. Luckily, I’ve tried out many great places so far and cannot wait to expand my list and share it all with you in a future post!
Now that I have experienced a fair share of what Paris has to offer, I will start planning my trips across Europe, and hopefully tell you all about it soon enough :) Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any question! You can find me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
A très bientôt :)