1. Why I Chose to Study in Troyes

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1 1 1. Why I Chose to Study in Troyes I decided early to study abroad, so I did a little research of possible destinations. The University of Applied Sciences Ludwigshafen has a wide range of partner universities. One of the main reasons why I wanted to study abroad was to improve my foreign languages, such as English and French as well. Since studying in the United States was not affordable for me and I did not want to go to England, I chose France. One of the French partner universities is the Groupe ESC Troyes. Other reasons for a semester abroad were for example improving my soft skills and cultural knowledge. Nearby Troyes, there are cities like Paris, Reims, Dijon or Nancy which are very important cities. Also Troyes is a very interesting city with its history and numerous churches, Beside of that Troyes is a living city with a lot of students. The Groupe ESC business school with its modern design and professors from all over the world made me very curious. With the help of older experience reports and online research, I came to the point that I wanted to study in Troyes. 2. Preparations for my Semester Abroad After I finally made my decision, I worked on all the paper work. A big help was the international office of Ludwigshafen and its informational material on the website. With the help of the checklist I could do everything step by step. In my case I did not have to apply for a visa. The application for the ERASMUS grant was also easy. The members of the international office in Troyes sent me all the information materials by . I never felt unwell or overwhelmed in my preparation time. During my fall semester in Ludwigshafen, I applied for several accomodations in Troyes. Here you had to log in on the intranet of the Groupe ESC Troyes. All the accomodations were listed with prices and photos, so you just had to click on your three desired apartments. After a few days you were informed which apartment you could rent. I just had to print and sign the contract and upload it on the intranet. Before you choose the apartments, I would research the adresses. The school is near the city center,

2 2 so I would choose an apartment between city center and school. The bus tickets are quite expensive and a lot of students were happy that they lived 5 to 10 minutes by foot away from school. Nevertheless, if there are any problems with your accomodation, there are ways to change the flat. I also had to do a quick French language online test for the French course during the semester. One of the biggest problems was to choose the right courses. To achieve 30 ECTS credit points I had to choose 11 courses. Early January I could apply for my courses. For my bachelor degree course, BCO, I chose subjects in Management, Marketing and French. Because all of them belonged to the Master's degree in Management of ESC, I had no overlappings during my semester. 3. My first days in Troyes After my last exam in January in Ludwigshafen, I packed everything I needed and went to Troyes by car. It takes around four and a half hours from Mannheim. The welcoming week was early February, which was very well planned. The Groupe ESC Troyes has several organizations, like taking care of international students, organizing trips and so on. The first day I arrived in Troyes, the members of the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) waited for all the new ERASMUS students in the main hall of the school. Everyone got a little bag with information material and food for the first days. Here you could talk to other international and French students. Every international student had a student contact person called buddy. After I found my buddy, we went to my apartment to meet my landlord and to do the formalities. In my house lived besides students also French citizens, so it was a interesting mix. The following days were a little exhausting because there was a lot to do. Such as creating a French bank account, paper work for the insurance, photos for student card and so on.

3 3 4. My courses General information: The common class time is from 9:45 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:15. Every class has a 15 minute break. So you never have more than 2 classes a day, except you have an overlapping. Sometimes you have classes before and after the common times, but that is rather rare. Most of my classes had a compulsory attendance and a few teachers stood on punctuality. French course: Before the actual courses started, we had an intensive French course for one and a half week followed by a French course once a week. The intensive course was a very good help to refresh the basics of French. We did not totally focus on grammar. The focus was on general vocabulary, so we had every day a new topic. Such as, eating at a restaurant or asking for directions. At the end of the intensive class, we visited a museum and went to a restaurant to practice our speaking. The consecutive course was also very interesting. We listenend to music, wateched movies, played games and also did little presentations. Both classes ended with a final written test. I recommend both courses to gain more knowledge in French language and culture as well. Innovation Management: This class was very interesting because it was mainly about inventions and innovative products. The teacher talked about real examples, such as Apple or Nintendo products. The goal was to understand how companies can innovate an existing product or create an innovative product. We had to do a project and also a presentation for the grading of the class. This project was interesting, because we should invent an innovative product and should present it. Here it was important to include everything we learned from the class.

4 4 Development and Strategy: Here we were taught the main concepts and tools of strategic analysis with interesting examples. The teacher gave us a few case studies on which we worked during class. This class is also connected to Institutions and Organizations which I can both recommend. The final written test was a case study, where we had to use different strategies. Institutions and Organizations: In this course we learned how organizations work. For example the decission making process or organizational change. Here we were formed in different groups to present different topics which were connected to the class. Corporate Social Responsibility: The main question in this class was: "Is it social responsible?" Here we discussed different situations, such as child labor or hiring illegal immigrants. The goal was to understand, that there is no right or wrong. It depends on how you argue. That's why we started little group discussions where we had to argue. Strategic Marketing: It was all about the different tools of marketing. Our main goal was to create a marketing plan, which was also the final written test. We should also present a strategy for a product to compete the market. This class was very interesting because we also looked at real company strategies such as Adidas or Nike. Market and Value Proposition: In this class we learned how a market research works and how to improve a service for customers. Here we saw strategies and real examples. Such as improving super markets and their sorting of products. The goal of this class was to improve something in real life and use what we learned in class. Here we had to write a market research report.

5 5 International Sourcing: This course was mainly about international purchasing and its strategy. Here we learned how to choose the right supplier and what strategies we could use. The class ended with a final written test. Business Negotiation: An important class to understand how negotiation works. The teacher used the variety of international students from all around the world to build negotiation groups. Here we did little roleplays, like customer and buyer. One of the important things we learned was the use of BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement). I can recommend this class, because it was very helpful to understand how business negotiations work in different countries. Community and Social Network Management: The goal of this class was to understand how social media works. The teacher showed us examples about companies. We had to present in groups a company with its role in social media and also a single presentation about ourselves and how we use social media. 5. Spare Time and Travels Now I will tell you something about the activities you can do besides of studying in Troyes. Unfortunately the weather was very cold in February and March and I had classes everyday, so the travelling part was postponed to April. But there are still enough possibilities to do. A great place is the movie theater in Troyes, which also shows movies in English. If you know French students, sometimes you can get cheaper tickets because there are several promotions. The movie theater is near the city center, but I would not recommend women to go there alone at night. If you are interested in sports, you can go to the gym in the school. It's free, although there is a price mentioned in the information material. The fitness room is little, but the equipment is completely

6 6 new since this summer. Even a professional training is partly possible. The school also has a basketball court. If you like jogging, I can recommend the parc near the University of Technology of Troyes. Here you can go jogging, sitting in the parc or even go indoor swimming. Near the school there is also a place to play laser tag. Since summer 2015, the soccer team of Troyes plays in Ligue 1, so you can watch interesting soccer matches. For friends of good food, you should go to the market hall in the city center, here you can buy fruits, vegetables, cheese and other food from the region. Troyes is the capital of champaign, so you will find a lot of wine. Local wine sellers are pleased to help you to buy a nice and also cheap wine. Now I come to the travelling part. Troyes is in the middle of nice cities to visit. Of course everybody wants to see Paris, but don't forget cities like Reims, Dijon or Nancy. The train trip to Paris is very comfortable because it takes only 90 minutes. If possible I recommend to come by car to Troyes, because it makes life in Troyes and travelling much easier. 6. Costs The monthly rent for my flat was around 350 Euros with electricity. Life in France is similar to Germany. The first days you had to pay 60 Euros for the housing insurance. The deposit depends on the landlord. Normally the range is from 300 to 600 Euros and you will get it back two months after you moved out. A nice bonus is the housing benefit you get. Here you get around 150 Euros per month. A negative point is, if you get BAföG, they will subtract the amount of the housing benefit. But nevertheless it reduces your costs. Another point is the grocery shopping. It always depends where you go for grocery shopping, but all in all you can say it does not differ from Germany. I spent around 200 Euros monthly for food. The menus in the school cafeteria are quite expensive, so I mostly ate at home. Recommendable is buying the "carte jeune" at the train station. This card is for young people, here you can save a lot of money if you want to travel by train. The price for one year is 50 Euros. If you want to travel to Paris, an one way ticket from Troyes to

7 7 Paris costs 28 Euros, with this card only 14 Euros. Also nice to mention is the cheap copy service in the school. One copy costs 0,01 Euros and you have 500 free copies. But since all the scripts are on the intranet, there is no big need to copy that much. 7. Conclusion I would go again to Troyes and I can totally recommend it to everybody who is interested in French culture. Of course, there are some boring moments, but all in all it was a great experience. It was interesting to see a different university system because the system at ESC Troyes reminds German students to the German high school system. Also the many presentations made me more self-confident. I also could improve my French. Another advantage is that professors of the ESC encourage you to think different. I felt very creative during my time in Troyes and I still do. I think for my future career, this will be very helpful.

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