Last week I had my last classes at Sciences Po. Now I still have one more exam and one more paper left to write, but then I am all finished! I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. So this time, I will write a bit about what it is like to study at Sciences Po, and hopefully this will be useful for any future exchange students going to take classes here!
First thing that people often mention about Sciences Po is the workload. I can say that yes, studying at Sciences Po means you will be doing more work than what you did on your first or second year at Glasgow. As a Glasgow student, you are supposed to take 5-6 course units per semester, and usually for each one of them you have to do one or two oral presentations, write at least one paper and sometimes also take an exam. However, this is all very manageable, and it is not difficult to get similar grades as back home. You will still have plenty of free time (unless, like me, you decide to do an internship as well… 🙂 )
Most classes only have 25 students, which means that the classes tend to be pretty interactive. Also, you are not allowed more than two absences or you fail. In many ways this is much more ‘school-like’, compared to Glasgow. However, I also found that I learn much better this way. First of all, the fact that you have a more diverse range of assignments – book reviews, oral presentations, debates – means that you can also learn new skills (I mean, being able to speak in front of other people is a useful skill for any job isn’t it?), and it encourages you to study throughout the semester, instead of just preparing for an exam one week before. Also, the students really come from all over the world, which means that different perspectives are always presented in the classroom.
At Sciences Po they ask you to come up with a problematique whenever you’re writing a paper or doing a presentation. No one seems to be able to explain what this problematique is. But basically, it’s just another word for a research question. Learning how to formulate a research question before having to pick one for your dissertation is another useful skill you can learn at Sciences Po. Writing papers at Sciences Po is a bit different from writing a paper at Glasgow. Instead of arguing clearly for yes or no, Sciences Po professors love more nuanced answers. In other words, it is always good to argue ”yes, but…”
Last week I saw Mr Ban Ki-moon on my way to class. Sciences Po hosts some pretty influential speakers every now and then, which I think is quite cool.
That’s all for now, but if you have any questions about Sciences Po or Paris, I am still here for you!