Travel Report. Toulouse Business School Fall 2013

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1 Travel Report Toulouse Business School Fall

2 Table of Contents 1. Opening words Preparing Arriving to Toulouse Accommodation Other practicalities Studying and the courses Leisure... 7

3 1. Opening words I wanted to do my exchange studies in French speaking country and what would be better choice for that than France! I have studied French many years and now I had great chance to travel to France and stay there the whole fall semester. The location of Toulouse is great and it is one of the biggest student cities in France. I can warmly recommend Toulouse for everyone even if you wouldn t have any skills in French. In addition to its great location the city is very nice. Toulouse is well-known also as la Ville Rose because of its architecture. In this report I will explain a bit my overall experiences in Toulouse and especially what is studying in Toulouse Business School. 2. Preparing The agent from Toulouse Business School tap into me at the end of April and thus I had a lot of time to start preparing my exchange such as accommodation, flights etc. When I received an official confirmation letter for being accepted to the school I had to deliver the following documents to the school by Official transcription of studies in Aalto CV in English Copy of European Health Insurance card Copy of passport Copy of birth certificate I recommend translating the birth certificate directly to French but also English version is accepted. I needed to deliver my birth certificate also when applying CAF (Caisse Allocations Familiales). I will tell more about CAF below. Anyway, I asked my translated birth certificate from Local Register Officer and that costs 30 euros. Right at the beginning I was also asked to fill the course choices on Campus-website which is like our Noppa/Oodi. This phase was a little bit confusing and I had to send an to the school to ask if my choices were registered. It turned out that these choices didn t even really matter and we had to fill learning agreements again at school at the beginning of the semester. However this had to be also done already during the registration. Before students have been able to apply also accommodation via Campus but this fall they changed the system. The school only recommends some accommodation options and I had to be very active 1

4 and ask different places if they would have any accommodation left to offer for me. ATALE is the most popular and usually all students try to have an accommodation from this hall of residence. I suggest sending an as soon as possible to Valérie de Scorbiac and asking the accommodation. However, there are lots of pros and cons living in Atale and I will tell more about these later. 3. Arriving to Toulouse I booked my flights right after I knew the dates when the school will start and when it will end. There are no direct flights from Helsinki to Toulouse so I had to transfer plane in Paris, Munich or Amsterdam. My flights went via Munich and I paid for them about 300 euros. However, many students came to Toulouse also by train or by bus. They had first flights to Paris or Barcelona and then they took the train. Some crazy Polish people came by bus, but I think no-one really should consider that option from Finland. I decided to buy the flight tickets because otherwise the travelling time would have been very long and the flights weren t that expensive compared the effort I should have had to do when changing to the train and sit there many hours for example. When I arrived to Toulouse I was given an advice to take the shuttle to the city. The shuttle is called Navette aéroport and it costs 5 euros (2013). The shuttle stops at Compans Caffarelli and Jean d Arc before the final destination Jean Jaures. The school and ATALE are located very close to Compans Caffarelli. It takes about minutes from the airport to Compans. You can buy tickets directly from the driver but I had some time before the shuttle left so I decided to buy the ticket beforehand from the kiosk which is in front of the bus station at the airport. It is faster if people have bought their tickets beforehand and with all baggage it s easier to enter to the bus with ready-paid ticket. One member of Welcome Team (WT) was waiting for me at Compans and he had got my keys to my apartment. This was great because I arrived quite late to Toulouse and otherwise I should have stayed the first night in hotel because the office in Atale was already closed at that time. Generally WT members are very kind and nice people. They help exchange students in all possible issues. They even borrow some kitchen stuff so I advise not to buy everything as new! 4. Accommodation My apartment was very close to the school, about 2 minutes by walk. As I mentioned, this student hall of residence is very popular. However, I would recommend also searching some other options. Don t even hesitate to search apartment with some other students! Some students had found very nice houses where they lived together, had some nice parties etc. Apartments in Atale are quite expensive compared to other accommodation options and the quality of these apartments is not very good. 2

5 Normal apartment in Atale costs 490 euros excluding electricity. All tenants have to make their own contracts with the electricity company EDF. The apartments in Atale were quite dirty and it took all together about one whole day to clean it up. There were also many troubles with Internet connection and it didn t get any better although we complained a lot of it. At the end they reimbursed us 15 euros for bad connection, but it didn t recover all the harm and difficulties we faced because of it! And I ve heard that those problems still remain Some students had problems with Atale also concerning the leaving and cancelling the tenancy agreement. The fall semester lasts only three and half months and the tenants in Atale are expected to cancel their contracts three months before their leaving. It wasn t that strict at the end but I recommend doing that as soon as possible you know the exact date you will leave Atale. 5. Other practicalities I recommend taking French sim card and thus getting French phone number. Many students chose the telephone company Free because it is cheap and easy to buy online. They offer unlimited phone calls and SMS in France plus 3G internet costs all together euros. There are no unlimited internet connections for phones as we have in Finland. In France 3G really means that you have only 3 gigabits to use internet. If you use your 3G for general surfing, to Skype etc. that s enough. I followed my use with application called 3G Watchdog to be aware of how much I have used and how much there is still left. After using all 3 gigabits the connection will become very slow but it will not stop working permanently, it is just very slow. As mentioned before, all students in France are allowed to get CAF. For us the amount of CAF money is 170 euros per month. CAF is an institution that supports students for example. To get CAF money all students have to have a French bank account. There are some representatives from different banks to introduce their offering at school at the beginning of semester. I chose LCL as did many other students. One of their offices is at Compans, so very close to the school. Generally the staff at the office doesn t speak very good English but especially during those first days they had some English speaking personnel to help international students. Concerning the electricity contract, I recommend getting someone who speaks French with you to the office. I went there with other exchange students and none of us spoke French very well. However, all of us got the contract but it took a while when officers had to use Google Translator. 3

6 6. Studying and the courses When we apply to the business schools in France we notice that even if we are going to do our bachelor exchange studies we have to do master courses. This is because the school system in business schools in France is different and the levels of studies are this way closer to each other. Thus all the courses I did in TBS were graduate courses. I think that fall is not the best time to go if considering the course offering. Master1 (M1) students in TBS are doing their internships and the rest of them do basic courses like finance, marketing and operations management. In addition we didn t have many courses to choose from. School offers courses worth of 34 ECTS and we are supposed to do 30 ECTS. The courses I chose: Management control Operations management Marketing and International trade Finance Economics The art of communication in business French as foreign language Corporate social Responsibility Strategy report It looks like a lot but in real it wasn t. Next I will explain these courses more detailed. Management Control (4 ECTS) This course included following things; management accounting supporting managers decision making, different methods and models concerning the costs of the organization, how to evaluate organization s performance and in addition the budgeting process and variance analysis based on these processes. Course was held by the consultant from outside of the school. During the classes we did lots of exercises and at the end of the semester we had an exam. As in all the courses, excluding language courses, we didn t have much homework to do. Almost all the work was done during the lectures as also in this course. 4

7 Operations Management (4 ECTS) We were presented how companies can design and manage their operations to produce goods or services and better adapt supply to demand. Following topics were dealt during the classes: process analysis and improvement, capacity calculations, inventory management, production planning and control, supply chain coordination and purchasing management. We had lots of different kinds of exercises in tutorial sessions which helped to understand all theories dealt during the lectures. The course was evaluated by the final open book exam. The lecturer was a young female professor and one of the best we had. The classes in English track are not very big so we had a lot of interaction during the lectures, especially during these classes. Marketing and International Trade (4 ECTS) This module was divided into two parts, marketing and international trade. However we couldn t choose only one of these, we had to take both because these courses formed a module. Marketing course was the only course that was overloaded. We had to do a group work basing on some real life company and prepare a report and a presentation of it. In addition we had a final exam. There was much more to do than in other courses and this course would have been worth of more than two credits. Some students also complained about the lecturer because his English skills weren t very good and because of this mentioned amount of work. International trade was my favorite course. The lecturer was English consultant and the teaching was very good. The content of the course was interesting and we did some exercises during the classes. Some topics we had: incoterms, risks in an international transaction, risk management, customs procedures etc. The final test included a small group work and an individual part. Corporate Finance (3 ECTS) We dealt the following topics during these finance classes: the net present value, the investment policy (capital budgeting and investment decisions), risk and return, CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model) and cost of capital, value of the firm and financial structure. As we had in many courses also in this course the lecturer was consultant. The course was divided into two different parts but we had only one final exam in the end of semester. 5

8 Macroeconomics (2 ECTS) During this course we studied how economic activity is measured and what it means. Mainly we concentrated on IS-LM model. Related to this model we studied also general equilibrium in a closed economy and impact of economic policies (governments and Central Banks). At the end of the course the subject was expanded and we dealt also open economies and efficiency of those economic policies. The course was held already at the beginning of the semester. Because the semester lasts from September to December (it s not divided into two parts as we have in Aalto), it was difficult to start to read over again the course material for the exam which was at the end of the semester. One negative thing in TBS was that the course and exam planning was very poor. The Art of Communication in business (4 ECTS) During these classes we had lots of oral presentations and we had to use the language in business related contexts. The groups were quite small so the classes were very interactive. We had to prepare and present many group works, so tot only individual presentations were done. At the end of the course we had a lot of debating and the final assignment was to prepare speeches for the final debate where we competed against another classes. Evaluation was based on the continuous participation and presentations. French as Foreign Language (4 ECTS) There were three different levels to choose based on our own French skills: beginners, intermediate and advanced. I had studied French almost eight years but with my skills I decided to take intermediate level. It was good decision, because despite of the level we had some very difficult conversations and all the vocabulary we studied was quite new for me or I had studied them many years ago and revising made good! During the last classes we had small tests. However, the tests were very different as we are maybe used to do in language courses in Finland. The exams were applied and there weren t even many questions related to things we had done during the classes. In addition to the written exams we had also an oral test. Corporate Social Responsibility (2 ECTS) This course was held by the same lecturer as we had in marketing course. The teaching wasn t very clear and the course wasn t very well organized either. The group work which we had to do was mainly done during the classes. The content of the course and also the group work were related to following topics: stakeholder theory, CSR concept and links with sustainable development and ethics, 6

9 and main tools and guidelines used by organizations to lead CSR approach. In addition to group work we had also an exam. The introductions in the exam were very unclear and some students sent a complaint also about this to the management of the school. Strategy report (4 ECTS) This course included only one big report. The subject of the report had to be in relation to some current issue. There were no lectures at all but during the process we had an opportunity to meet the professor twice for getting some advices and comments. In the report we had to learn and use some strategic tools and analyze the strategic decision made by the company with these tools and methodologies we had been studying from the given literature. 7. Leisure The location of Toulouse is very good if you want to travel during your exchange. I decided to concentrate only the areas nearby because it is quite easy to travel within Europe from Finland. There are not very many long holidays during the fall semester, only couple of long week-ends when Monday or Friday is day-off. However I tried to travel as much as possible and I visited many cities e.g. Bordeaux, Albi, Carcassonne, Montpellier etc. Also Andorra is very near and it s very easy to rent a car and drive to the Pyrenees. Many students visited also Barcelona because there is a shuttle organized by the school and many other connections by bus and train. If it s possible I recommend traveling to Lyon at the beginning of December. I travelled there by car when there was the famous Light Festival. It is really worth of seeing! There are also many activities in Toulouse. It is very cheap to go to the movies if compared to prices in Finland for example. We also went 7

10 bowling many times and there is a place where to play Lazer Quest. We did lots of different kinds of activities with Welcome Team but also just within new friends. The prices in generally feels very low compared to Finland. The only exception is the mobile phone charges. But for example alcohol and food are cheap. If you like to do sports there are awesome places for jogging for example. Especially the area of canal is very nice. If you think about starting to go to gym you should buy the gym card as soon as possible and take it straight for all months you are going to spend in Toulouse. It is cheaper if you buy the card for several months at one time. I decided to do just jogging and when it started to be colder I was in troubles. The public transportation is very good in Toulouse and what is the best thing is that it is very cheap! You need to get Tisseo card for the public transportation and there is an office at Jean Jaurés metro station. You need to have a certification from the school that you are studying there and one photo of you. Don t expect that the officers speak English so it might be easier to go there together with a bigger group or with someone who speaks French. One easy way to move inside Toulouse is city bikes. There are many bikes stations in the city and it s also very cheap. If you don t want to go by bike all the time I still recommend to rent these bikes at least once because it is very easy and nice way to get familiar with the city. Even if I have said that it is always easier to have someone with you when you go to apply these things but I don t want to scare: have courage to use French if you have studied it before for example! It is not that bad if you don t understand everything immediately. I can warmly recommend Toulouse for an exchange! Don t hesitate to contact if you have any questions. You can get my contact information from International student services. 8

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