It’s something really difficult to balance between studying for exams and simply experiencing life abroad. To be honest, it’s almost the same as settling down and immersing yourself in books anywhere else. The motivation should be the same as ever. Yet of course there are additional distractions such as the sunny weather (albeit a welcome distraction from rain), but as long as you enjoy studying your degree or doing your thing there’ll be no problems. I mean, that is until you realise that you love exploring your newfound environment.
You need to set down a certain amount of time a day or week for studying when it approaches exam time. I personally like to study in the morning for roughly three or four hours with breaks in between. Start early so that you don’t need to cram ten or twelve hours a day the day before the exam. This is all obvious stuff at this point though I admit it’s definitely a lot easier to be distracted and put down the books and notes for ’10 minutes’. Nevertheless, if you start early with studying that actually gives you more time to travel, ski and swim and just benefit from your exchange in general. So bizarrely it makes sense to study that bit earlier than you normally would so you have more time to enjoy yourself.
One major difference you will experience is the change in teaching style. In France for example, lectures are much longer than in Scotland. Plus normally you won’t have to do too many tutorials so that means the majority of your week will be taken up by these lectures. You’ll often find also (especially for humanities subjects) that much of the notes for each class will be posted online either by the lecturer or otherwise by a native student. Now, it probably appears that I’m telling you that you need study all the time, but that you needn’t be bothered to turn up to class. Yeah there’s some truth in that.
You can indeed not turn up to lectures and subsequently scour Facebook for class notes. You can indeed not turn up for any of the lectures of a subject and then proceed to sit the exam. However, I highly, and sincerely of course, do not recommend doing this. Obviously you’re less likely to get the grades you want from your exchange by doing this and thus you’ll probably make your final year(s) more difficult. However, it is very important that you prioritise your subjects and concentrate on some more so than others deliberately. For example, often the University of Glasgow will take 50% of your best grades from the exchange and use them to help calculate your degree classification. I would suggest that you then prioritise like this: choosing certain classes and maximising your effort there in order to maximise your overall grade. You still need to pass the majority, if not all, of your classes regardless in order to meet the required amount to graduate.
So there you have it. Some advice that lecturers or course advisors may or may not want to give to you. I realised this especially: here at Jean Moulin Lyon 3 I find myself doing 8 or 9 courses per semester. In this case it’s not convenient to prioritise, its logical.