Writer: Nadhira Faza Ichsan Photographer: Neem Christian Sutantio
When people think of France, they do not consider it as a destination for studying, right? Like it’s neighboring countries, German and the Netherlands. One of our friend, Neem, went to ESC Rennes School of Business for his study abroad program and we want to know about his experience in a country known for its fashion and gourmet cuisine, France. Because of that, we want to interview Neem on his decision for choosing France as his exchange program destinations and his adventure there.
Firstly, what made you choose France as your destination for the exchange program? “I didn’t actually choose it based on the country, but from the school first. It was first mentioned by one of the APM professors that no one went there yet before for a study abroad program when its accreditation is the same as our own department, and when I went home and checked the school, coincidentally it was in France. There are maybe people who don’t like France and the reason why I was sure to go was this hobby of mine which is photography, and before that too I did want to choose Europe for my destination because it is easier to access other countries. France’s location itself was strategic, not too far from the center of Europe.”
Before coming, did you have any fear or worry about studying there? Because most of us know France as more of a fashion country. “What I feared the most was culture and the language, it’s the same as when I went to Japan the first. I didn’t prepare much when I went to APU, and I did the same before going to France and also because of what people always told me that I need to be careful in Europe.”
When you got there, what was your impression of the country, is there anything benefit or perhaps otherwise? “Of course, it wouldn’t be all positive, but what I like about the culture is that it’s not similar to what we are used to in the east. How they work, how the professors teach and how the students study, the culture is different. Another thing that I like about western culture is they are more confident in speaking their minds, which is good. In Japan, for example, we have a nomikai culture but we know the time and place to do it but not them, they keep “partying” while I studied, of course, that’s why I like Japan more as a place to study. What I don’t like about France was how the environment there is a bit scary, especially for girls, there are people that tell you that if you go to Europe you have to be careful with your things if not someone can steal it. And in Japan it's safer if we go home late at night, there’s nothing to be afraid of, you rarely homeless people but in France, you have to be very careful.”
What do you think is the difference between studying in APU and in France? “The school I went to was an international university, and the similarity with it is that you study with not only local people but also those who came from other countries. The only difference was how the students themselves did not make it comfortable to study in, and for me was the food, because Asians eat rice which was the same for me in Japan and Indonesia, but there I had difficulties for eating, and I had to cook on my own if not the Asian food that’s available is mainly kebab.”
Do you have any advice for our juniors who might want to go to France for their exchange program? “For those who want to go to Europe, or specifically France for their exchange program, people will probably think that it will be fun because you can play in other places in the country and out of the country. But we need to remember that our goal to do the program was to get something out of studying there and besides, we also still pay tuition to APU, so we have to set the time for when to play and to study. For girls, I advise them to be very careful because when one of my friends visited France, she had to even lock her bag to prevent getting robbed, particularly in the train because it is not as safe as in Japan, everyone has to be careful.”
Other than studying, Neem also took the opportunities to travel around Europe, such as Iceland, Germany, Switzerland and many other countries surrounding France! With his photography skill, he took beautiful pictures of the scenery and experience diverse culture of the countries itself and you can check it yourself in his Instagram @neemchristian.