France, EM Normandie – Angela Brown – 2008-2009

Angela in CaenEcole de Management de Normandie (EMN)

Caen is a city located in lower Normandy, roughly about the same size as Exeter. It is a picturesque city with lots of surrounding historic sites, mainly those linked to the Second World War.

It is a private business school rather than a University, there is a larger University situated nearby, and although the focus on contact hours is a bit daunting at first, 9.30 until 6.30 some days, it is a good place to study and have lots of fun as well. The school offers a course in English and in French as well as the opportunity to change half way through the year. I started off on the English course as was a bit nervous about going straight into French. I got to know the other Erasmus students well, but don’t feel like I learnt that much in this first semester as it is an English course for Erasmus and non native English speaking students and so was at a slower pace and similar modules to that of 1st and 2nd year general modules at Exeter. However if you want to ease yourself in slowly this is a good way to go, there is also a 5000 word essay that has to be done in the year and if you start off in English then you can continue this in English despite whether you change to French or not. The English course, named the Euro BA offers both business and tourism options, whereas the French course, named the BME (bachelor management European) only offers the business option. I really enjoyed my time here and think that being able to start off in English and then change to French really helped me to get a firmer grasp of the language, please see module evaluations for more information on the course.

At the Airport

The welcoming committee – help you with a variety of things, they organise an airport pick up (from Charles de Gaulle) if you wish to travel this way, and take you to your chosen residence. They also help you with the notorious paper work side of things such as setting up a French bank account and sort out your CAF (which is money given to you from the French government for studying in France).

Caen is classed as a city, but is not a large one, there are a lot of boutique style little shops as well as a few well known one’s such as H&M. There are a variety of clubs, but are more on the small side, every Thursday is student night where a society of l’ecole sells tickets for a different venue. To get there the tram and bus systems are really good, although this does finish about 12.30 and so can make getting home a slight problem as there is only one Taxi Company and it is about an hour’s walk home. Most of the French students go home at the weekend and so tend not to go out, however those who stay in Caen do as well as other students and locals, and there are many places which you can go in the evening or you can explore the nearby towns of Bayeux and Deauville or the beaches, and of course Paris only being about 2hours away by train.

There are several choices of accommodation, l’ecole helps you by sending you all the information and all you have to do is pick one and pay a deposit. Euro Residence is the cheapest, ranging from unfurnished to furnished apartments from 1 to 3 people, although the quality of the furnishings is not the best it is one of the nearer ones to l’ecole and many Erasmus parties went on here. Apart City and Top Campus are more expensive, mainly single rooms but a couple of shares, Apart City is literally 5 seconds from l’ecole and so a good option for the lazier person. Top Campus is about 10 minutes walk away, situated behind a large man made lake, most of the French students are here, but again mainly single rooms and so not so sociable. For both Euro Residence and Top Campus you need to sort out your own internet (in euro residence some people shared across apartments making it cheaper) and other utility bills. An alternative is the Sphinx Residences, Tempologies, Les Doges and Germes de Ble where I stayed; the sharing rooms are only a bit more expensive than euro residence and include all your bills. The single rooms are about the same price as the Apart City rooms, although these residences are good as you don’t have to sort out your own bills, they are further away about 15minutes from l’ecole, although there is a bus service for those colder days, however this finishes at about 9pm.

There are several ways to get to Caen, the airport pick up as mentioned, there are some cheap flights by Easy Jet although involves a 2hr train/3hr bus ride. The ferry is a good option as takes you into Ouistreham about 30mins away from Caen, and there is a Bus Vert service (the trams and other buses being Twisto) to the city centre, however this does not run for the last ferry of the day (from Portsmouth to Ouistreham) so make sure you time it right. Bus Vert schedules (www.busverts.fr) can be found online as well as Twisto schedules (www.twisto.fr). Of course there is also the Euro Tunnel, but again involves travelling from Paris to Caen.

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All in all I had a great year, there were some ups and downs of course like any experience but overall I think Caen is a good  place to study if you are a bit wary of going to a larger university, or want a bit more practice with your French before you dive straight in. Although it is in lower Normandy and so has the disadvantage of similarly rubbish weather as the UK.

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