Hiroshima Diaries 広島

Hello Dear Reader,

Since you’re here and reading this blog post I assume you are in one of these groups: The first group is the students who want to admit/who has been admitted to Malmö University and they would like to know more about their (future) universities opportunities. For these people, this blog post might not be helpful. First, university is more than just travelling to other countries. University is an experience that is going to affect the rest of your lives dramatically. So, if you’re deciding on which university to choose solely based on its “social” facilities, I’d recommend looking at other things. Nevertheless, Malmö University provides enough opportunities and you did/are going to make a good decision by choosing here. The second group is the academic or administrative staff who are curious what the students are writing in this blog. I’ve nothing to tell them either as no matter what I write here, they’ll probably read it until the end. The third group is the internet surfers who ended up in this website. To them, I say welcome. This blog post would be a nice way to kill time. And final group is the students who are planning to apply INU Master’s Summer School or who are already admitted to the seminar/summer school.  This post would be most useful for you.

Before I applied to this school I had so many concerns. For sure the biggest concern was money. Despite the 80,000 JPY stipend, going to Japan is not a cheap business. I’ll tell you one thing about it: I brought back quite a lot of money despite buying all the weird Japanese stuff. Travelling to and within Japan is quite expensive and it makes you miss Skånetrafiken ‍♂️ however, food is so cheap! It’s incredible how cheap the food is. To be honest, I couldn’t believe for over a week and despite knowing the exchange rate I was still trying to convert. A large lunch box costs around 40-50 SEK which is a gem.

The second concern was, as a self-declared “nerd”, if this summer school would be

Visiting Hiroshima is such a humbling experience that everyone should try at least once

useful for my future. It’s difficult to answer as it’s been just 4-5 days since the school has ended but the experience was worth it. Apart from the cliché “It’s such an intercultural experience with people from all around the world, it’s a great opportunity”, I can also say it was informative enough. Not in an academic sense -I’ve a major in political science and international relations plus now I’m studying international migration and ethnic relations, so yeah, obviously I knew what is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how can we improve the global standards- but in a social sense.  I gained a nice network of people. Every student who joined the master’s summer school had a great academic background, the lecturers who joined the event were also an asset for me. In the end, I learnt new stuff on the rights of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, Hiroshima, A-bomb attacks and Japan. Overall I give 7/10 to the summer school.

 

New friends from all around the world! This is the best thing this summer school gave to me

Many of the participants arrived in Japan a couple of day earlier to travel more. I also flew to Tokyo rather early in order not to suffer from jet-lag but I didn’t travel much. I’d recommend going to Japan at least 3-4 days earlier and going to Kyoto, Osaka or Fukuyaka. I’ve not been to any of them and I regret it so much. Japanese bullet trains (shinkansen) are cool and it doesn’t take much time to go to these cities. If you want to see Fuji you really need to spend a couple of days earlier or later for that occasion.

The pink area is Higashi Hiroshima in greater Hiroshima Prefecture

 

You’re going to Hiroshima Prefecture, not to Hiroshima. These are different things and if someone had told me this before I’d be more careful about my decisions. Think that you’re going to Stockholm metropolitan area, Stockholm is within that area but if you live in another city that’s around 40-50 min. away that means you’re going to spend most of your time in that city: It’s called Higashi-Hiroshima (literally eastern Hiroshima -they didn’t think thoroughly) and Saijo.

Saijo is known for being the sake capital of Japan. There are many breweries, take your time and visit them. They’re not very touristic so don’t expect people waiting for you at the gates, in some cases you wouldn’t even believe you’re entering to a brewery, it’s a friendly and warm experience. Saijo’s streets are narrow and people are so kind. I was sceptical about the hotel but it was just great! For around 400 SEK per night, it is just awesome! You get to use the free spa and public bath as well and the breakfast buffet is good. Ignore the fish-heads, rice and noodles that are offered for breakfast though. In comparison, I paid 500 SEK per night in a capsule hotel with shared room and bathroom in Tokyo.

 

The minute of Silence for the victims of atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima

The most unforgettable moment for me was joining a panel with a “Hibakusha” or a survivor of the atomic bomb attack. Keiko described each detail she could remember. I’ve never thought I’d be moved by the panel that much. Travelling inside Hiroshima was an incredible experience too. Hiroshima was rebuilt after the attack and there were only a couple of buildings that survived the attack. This means the city is more or less 70 years old and I don’t think this experience can be put into the words. I’d recommend everyone to visit the city and breathe in the air. It is such a humbling experience.

 

Master’s students are divided into the US and Russian groups for the UN role-play. In

The master’s students that represented the US and Russia in role-play.

fact, most of the events you are going to do you will be divided into the country groups. In some cases, only the country groups will be present so you may not see other people from different country groups. Moreover, get ready to be called by your country group. I was in the Russian team and throughout the school, many people called me “The Russian guy” despite I’ve no connections to Russia.

 

We went to the nearby island Miyajima together with our country groups. However, it was too humid and hot for me. My phone’s battery died out of the heat and I really couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the island. Moreover, the island was very touristic and crowded, adding the heat and humidity to this meant I couldn’t enjoy it much. Prepare yourself for overly friendly deer, they eat paper! Keep your tickets safe!

Similar to the deers in Miyajima island, crows in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be a problem.

 

Japanese shrines are similar to each other. I’m not impressed by any of the shrines I’ve been. I assume it’s because Japanese culture refrains from showing off. Some small shrines are just wooden structures with nothing in them. However, my view is extremely subjective, many people in the group enjoyed the temples.

You’re expected to wash your hands before entering the Shinto shrines. Japan combines Shintoism with Buddhism and in most cases, it is difficult to differentiate which religion’s shrine you’re visiting.

The workshops and lectures have been great experiences as well! During the 10-days-long summer school, you’re expected to learn more about the atomic bomb attacks and Hiroshima, prepare yourself for the UN role-play and finally the real deal: present your paper and discuss another participant’s paper. The summer school was easier than I thought, however, I wished we had more days which would allow the school to be a bit looser. Almost every day, I came to my room at the hotel around 6-7 pm, very tired. After dinner and resting a bit, you don’t really have much time to do things. Therefore, if you arrive in Higashi-Hiroshima at least one day earlier, you can travel within Saijo as well. Don’t waste your time with going somewhere else if you don’t have time. Hiroshima Prefecture is a quite large area, there are so many things to do, landmarks to see. Saijo is a nice experience as well and it doesn’t take a day to visit the whole city. Japanese people cannot really speak English, it’s better to know at least the basic greetings and travel sentences. However, as I said earlier they’re very friendly and kind, they’ll do whatever they can to help you.

 

The UN Role-Play is a great way to understand how international politics function

In the final day of the summer school, the UN role-play takes place. Because I had similar experiences before my group basically crashed the debate! (Un)Fortunately, the resolution did not pass. What is unfortunate is that actually, the resolution was a great gain for the global politics and universal human rights. If the draft resolution had passed, the countries were required to decriminalize same-sex relations and put afford to fight against discrimination on the basis of SOGI. However, as we represented Russia, we did whatever we could to change the draft resolution. Consequently, the final resolution became a redundant paper. Indeed, the UN General Assembly has no binding powers but we tried hard to make the resolution as vague and as meaningless as possible. In the end, most countries voted no for the final resolution, which was a quiet victory for us, despite we worked hard to make changes, the final resolution had many articles that any Russian delegate to the UN would say no.

 

Finally, I recommend everyone to try and be part of this experience. Similar to other things, there are pros and cons, positives and negatives of this summer school as well. However, it is such an experience that will make you ignore all the negative sides.

 

 

 

Hello from Bali!

We are now on our third day of the conference and we’re busy with going to lectures, trying different traditional food activites and making a social campaign. Since the theme of the conference is “Water, Energy & Food Nexus” we all have been divided into either water, energy or food groups. So right now we are busy with walking around in Kuta and finding inspiration and scenes to shoot for our social campaigns. Between the lectures and shooting we have also tried a lot of Indonesian food! Yesterday we tried Padang food and without knowing it ate cow brain and lungs. But it was good!

Unfortunately the wifi here is really slow so we’re not able to upload any pictures right now.

Get a glimpse of Japanese culture! INU, Hiroshima

Konnichiwa!

今日は!

FALLING IN LOVE WITH TOKYO

2nd/3rd of August

Before  arriving to Hiroshima, I had an occasion to spend two wonderful days in the vibrant and dynamic city of Tokyo, staying in Nezu district with other Swedish representative- Heidi. This surrounding is perceived as  the location filled with the atmosphere of the traditional shitamachi neighborhood, informally called “good, old Tokyo”. Our cozy hotel was the first  stop in the way of getting to know inexperienced by us so far Japan.

Architecture in Tokyo

Architecture in Tokyo/ day

Architecture in Tokyo. By night

Architecture in Tokyo/ night

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo crowd

Tokyo crowd

 

 

 

 

Variety keeps your mind surprised

Variety keeps your mind surprised

Japanese hospitality in the reception and in the bar, explanation of bathroom manners, experience of tiny, highly functional and compact spaces and some extra help or tips regarding sightseeing- all that we were given for a starter. Being outside, in a heartbeat  I felt stunned by the coexistence of the buildings/objects that were enormously huge or contradictory tiny -all that smartly and archly  mixed, giving me the fresh perspective on urban tissue. Two days spent in that attractive, oriental city showed me how creative human creatures and how humid the weather can be.

Nippon にっぽん

Nippon にっぽん found in one of Tokyo’s flats

JAPANESE HOSPITALITY AT  HIROSHIMA UNIVERSITY

4th of August

After two days of pure sightseeing it came the time for switching into even more international and educational environment of Hiroshima and INU Summer School. With high excitement and expectations of great adventure, we headed to the Hiroshima Prefecture, a city called Saijo, where we arrived recognizing extreme warmness and humidity with our bit tired bodies.

There we found the hotel, which was very well equipped and located close to the main station or the University, as the tour guide indicated. After quick meeting with Vesna (main coordinator in HU), and after receiving keys, we went out for the food and fun hunt! After few hours of adapting to the new surrounding, our Swedish crew joined the rest of the hotel guests and headed to the University, were our facilitators and authorities welcomed us, showing greatest wills of hospitality. The first meeting with all representatives was very exciting! We had best food served on tables and wonderful minds to discuss with. That place will definitely remain in my head as the beginning of all further good 🙂

HOW THE SPIRIT OF PEACE CAN BE SENSED IN HIROSHIMA

5th and 6th of August

These two days were absolutely moving and experiencing. First, we have visited Peace Memorial Museum, focusing on our country groups we were assigned to, making new connections and getting to know people better. What was also better known, was the story of Hiroshima and hard times it went through. And people from this city, who bravely decided to rebuild damaged places, re-creating hope and peace among inhabitants. We’ve heard personal stories from an Atomic Bomb Survivor, Keiko Ogura, who presented her point of view and shared the story of this horrible day civilians were given. From her words grief after losing some friends or family members was evident and presenting very dismal reality of that time.

trip to Miyajima

trip to Miyajima

After this meeting it was rather hard to focus on pleasurable things but all summer school participants made this time peaceful and thoughtful, enjoying rebuilt Hiroshima, all diving in sun. Lunchtime then was the perfect excuse for us for discussing and planning. That’s how we decided to have a short trip to Miyajima- heaven-like island with many deers walking freely on the streets among tourists or local people!

What we did the next day, was also extraordinary and brought us a lot of second-thoughts, as we were participating in the Peace Memorial Ceremony and a

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

guided tour that delivered us extra thrills as it was enriched by very meaningful stories from local people. We were also given a try of regional cookies and cup of really decent geen tea- matcha. More about green tea you can find for example here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2041.html

 

The evening was magical and very integrative- we were participating in the Lentern Ceremony.

 “The experience of watching the warm lights of some 10,000 lanterns as they float tranquilly down the river in the dark of night, each bearing wishes for peace from the gathered attendees, has a powerful, almost other-worldly quality. The participants in this event include not only Hiroshima locals, but also many visitors who come from far and wide.” (http://visithiroshima.net)

 

GETTING TO KNOW THE SITUATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

7th-11th of August

Those days were given over the presentations, multiple discussion panels and workshops, which were broadening our horizons in that way that we got to know the stories of Indigenous Peoples from many corners of the world. We had been given the chance to understand the differences in the way of treating Indigenous Peoples by governments of different countries. Diversity among master students participating in the whole event provided deeper insight  into the problem, expanding it into areas of more developed  and complex issues.

Part of Hiroshima University Campus

Part of Hiroshima University Campus

By reading all the papers submitted by our colleges, preparing our own presentation concerning chosen topic and by  asking questions directed to others, commenting on the strength, we were supposed to learn as much about the case as possible. Each meeting was conducted by the Master’s programme convenor, who was ensuring that everyone complies with the time limit.

My own paper work had opened the whole panel session and was based on the topic: Sustainable Development Principles as perceived by States and Indigenous Peoples; Juxtaposition or equation?

By presenting my findings and answering questions I hopefully have inspired my young friends to deal with problems of our focus in that way that they get simpler and more likely to be solved when decently discussed at the very beginning with both sides- States and Indigenous Peoples to that extent that the common content is reached and sustainable goal fulfilled along with the sustainable process. To depict the conflict situation I have used the samples from laws of opposite sites: the UN document, the concept of sustainable development, 11 descriptions and Aboriginal the Crane and Crow story containing  twelve laws altogether.

Bobby presenting his findings

Bobby presenting his findings

After presenting all the papers and analyzing it all together, as the final conclusion of the course in Hiroshima there came the time for the role-play of UN. As the master’s students, me and Sam, we were chosen to different country groups to represent them and take care of their interests, attempting to influence the positions of other students.

Final Dinner at Hiroshima University

Final Dinner at Hiroshima University

SPONTANEOUS ATTENDANCE IN SAKE FESTIVAL

12th of August

Due to my fleeting illness, I had decided to prolong a little my stay in Saijo (just one day), which turned out very well, as me and one of the newly met Japanese friends, we had spent some quality time wandering or using bikes travelling around the Saijo city. That day was topped out by the Sake festival, where the local community used to dance and sing to karaoke and celebrate the tradition of producing  Sake out of local rice.

Saijo Temple

Saijo Temple

Sake festival in Saijo

Sake festival in Saijo

That event was complete surprise for us, as we were just passing by with bikes, but lured by some very tempting, pleasant and kinda hypnotic sounds, we decided to see what’s happening and we ended up sitting among celebrating and letting the memories grow in our heads.

Unforgettable!

Regards, dear readers!

A Visit to the Peace Memorial Museum In Hiroshima

5th of August, 2016

After a night of barely sleeping at all, maybe because of the heat, or simply because of the excitement about being in Japan, I wake up at six in order to go to Hiroshima City with the rest of the INU students and staff. We are staying in Higashi-Hiroshima, a small town located east of Hiroshima city and the bus ride takes about an hour. A lucky few are able to sleep almost the entire trip, while I tiredly stare out the window, allowing my gaze to scan all the mountains and forests that we pass on our way.

When we finally arrive in Hiroshima City, at the Peace Memorial Museum, it is a herd of tired and confused people trying to navigate the site in search of answers to where we are supposed to go. Someone who looks like they know what they are doing wave us in one direction, and we do as we are told, ending up at the entrance to the museum. Inside the museum we are handed leaflets and audio guides before we make our way to the exhibition.

SONY DSC

The A-Bomb Dome

Not quite knowing what to expect I enter the exhibition, and the first thing I see is a life-size model of three persons, all of them with loose skin hanging from their dirty bodies, clothes ripped, and all wearing an expression of extreme pain. Horrifying. Even though I have read a lot about the effects of the atomic bomb, and how the burns from the radiation heat would melt the skin of the human body, having it visualised in front of me makes everything I’ve read feel extremely real.

The museum is filled with stories from survivors and unfortunate victims of the bombing, personal belongings have been donated by survivors and relatives, and they are all accompanied by a description of the person who it belonged to, their full name, age, and occupation followed with what happened to them after the bombing. The statistics, 150 000 dead, become real and the numbers turn into individuals as I walk through the exhibition. People with lives just like ours. People who went to school or work on the morning of the bomb, people who never returned home, some who just disappeared on that day, never to be seen again, perished in the flames.

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The Children’s Peace Monument

It’s overwhelming and shocking. There is a lot to process and all the small details of personal lives hit hard. One of the most heartbreaking displays is a collection of small paper cranes, folded by Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the atomic bombing at the age of two, but later suffered from leukaemia due to the radiation. She folded 1000 paper cranes, and, as per tradition, wished to be cured, but died in the hospital. She became the inspiration and model for The Children’s Peace Monument, a monument to commemorate the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We move on from the museum to a hall where we get to listen to Keiko Ogura, a survivor of the bombing, or Hibakusha as they are called in Japan. She was eight years old when the bomb fell and her stories about the fear, the bomb, the fire, and the cremation of often unidentified bodies is hard to listen to, but it is very important that it is heard. She doesn’t only talk about what happened in August 1945, but continues to talk about how it is today, what it means to have been a person who was in Hiroshima. How it is to feel like you need to hide who you are because people are scared that there is something wrong with you because of the radiation that spread all across Hiroshima on the day of the bombing.

And she talks about the silence. The silence that had somehow become the norm amongst survivors, to not talk about what happened because of the guilt. The guilt of having survived something so horrible while others suffered immensely before they died. The guilt of being alive while others perished in the flames of Hiroshima, of having lived all this time while others disappeared. 

Despite the horrors faced by the Hibakusha, Keiko Ogura talks about the hope for the future, and about forgiveness. She asks us all to bring this story to our families and friends, share it, and help make sure that something similar will never happen again. That no one should have to suffer like they have, and that the most important aim to prevent this is to abolish the use and creation of nuclear weapons. Despite everything she has been through, she still believes in a future free from war and nuclear weapons, and if that isn’t one of the most inspiring acts of forgiveness and hope I don’t know what is.

A view of Hiroshima City

A view of Hiroshima City

/ Kajsa

I got to visit Tokyo!!!

Before me coming to Hiroshima to participate in the INU seminars, I got the chance to spend a couple of days in Tokyo. I have never before been in Japan but it has always been on my bucket list so it is quite awesome that I was given the opportunity to go to Japan a couple of days before the start of the seminars in Hiroshima.

I arrived on the 1st of August to Tokyo from Copenhagen and later that day Karolina was joining me. We hadn’t really met before, but luckily it was super great to have someone else to explore Tokyo with. A day later we joined up with Eren to walk around Harajuku and Yoyogipark. I really enjoyed Tokyo but it left me wanting more because 2 days is not enough time to really explore Tokyo and everything it has to offer.

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Hi From Hiroshima!

This will be our first blog post from us here in Hiroshima. We want to give you a short introduction to who we are and what this INU summer school is all about. We are 5 students from Malmo University that are coming from five different programs. The group consists of three bachelor students and two master students, and we are attending the same school, which is the Hiroshima University but two different courses.

IMG_2212

Here we are with our beautiful t-shirts representing Malmö Högskola.

From the left we have Eren Demirbas who is studying a BA in International Relations, next to him we have Karolina Piatkowska studying a MA in Leadership for Sustainability , then Heidi Dimon Djurhuus studying a BA in International Migration and Ethnic Relations, last to the right is Sam Pither who is studying a MA in Political Science: Global Politics and Societal Change. In the front we have Kajsa Gullberg studying a BA in English.

The INU programs overall is Global Citizenship and Peace, and this year the special focus is on the rights of indigenous peoples all around the world. We have different workshops where we get to learn about different issues that affect indigenous peoples in different parts of the world.

All the workshop will lead up to the final day of the UN Role Play where we all have different country groups assigned to us were we have to fight for the rights of the indigenous peoples of our country.

This is a great opportunity for us to meet students from all around the world, from Australia to Peru, and learn more about their perspectives on these issues as well. We are super happy to be able to experience such a different culture as the Japanese, and to also get an insight into how it is to be at a Japanese University.

You will be hearing a lot from us this week with posts about our experiences.

Hello from Australia

G’day, how is it going?

So this is the first time I’m writing a blog post at this blog, and I figure that it might be a good start with introducing myself to you readers. My name is Rebecka, I’m 20 years old and from a small village in the south of Sweden. Usually, I’m studying Peace and Conflict Studies at Malmö University, but right now I’m doing one year as an exchange student at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. The units I take here is within Murdoch University’s program ”Security, terrorism and counterterrorism”, I have just finished my first semester down under and the units I took this spring was about terrorism, counterterrorism, global security in general and also the US and Australia’s foreign and security policies. The units I’m going to take next semester is about democracy and international politics, relations and security, the difference from the last semester is that these units are more about the theories than practice and not specified to a specific country as the other units were (they all had a focus on Australia and the US).

First the plan was that I would only be here for one semester but halfway through it I felt that I hadn’t taken all the units I wanted to take here at Murdoch University and therefore e-mailed Malmö and asked if there were any chances that I could stay for one more semester, and to my great joy – there was! So here I am, still in Australia – my new home, having winter break and waiting for another semester to begin. All the internationals who was only here for only one semester have left by now and it’s quite quiet and I would lie if I say that I don’t miss them. After all, we were like a family, and the goodbyes were harder than  I thought it would be – maaaany tears! But I guess that’s a part of studying abroad, and in like 2 weeks new internationals arrive and a new family will probably be created.

By now, I don’t have that much to write and tell you but if you want to, and can read Swedish (or just use google translate) have a look on my private blog in the meantime http://nouw.com/rebeckahillbertz.

/ Rebecka Hillbertz

We the peoples of the United Nations

On the day of the official nomination of the new Secretary-General to succeed Secretary-General Kofi Annan, outiside the United Nations Headquarters, flags fly in the north end of the building, on a sunny fall day. 9/Oct/2006. UN Photo/Mark Garten. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/Being at the United Nations Headquarter in New York is truly inspiring. It is a place full of life and energy, which everyday invites for discussions about the many world-challenges: poverty, inequalities, climate change, wars, and terrorism… The aim of the UN is to be an organisation that promotes Peace and Security, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development; for all. I am lucky to be here, and to experience this, not least in this exciting period when the 2030 Global Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs) are starting to be implemented, and when the call for actions are critical.

However, something that I believe hits most people when they arrive here, is that the UN consists of its 193 Member States, which together need to agree on what should be done for having a better world. Process and progress can therefore be slow, and many people ask themselves if the UN actually is doing any difference? And if the world could become a better place for more people? I think the simple answer to both of these questions is YES. Just as the UN Charter begins with the powerful words “We the peoples of the United Nations…” it recognizes that the rights and responsibilities to act do not just apply for the people currently working in the UN-system or working with politics, but it includes ALL people in the world, from ALL nations. The world-leaders are (hopefully) doing their best to tackle the challenges facing humanity today, but we the peoples need to do the same. Everyday. Everywhere.

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In addition, I know that I am extremely fortunate to be born in a wealthy country with one of the best welfare-systems in the world. This makes it possible for me to travel to different places, meet new people, learn about their cultures, and get new experiences. At the same time, many young people around the world will never get the same chance. The opportunities and choices in life are still very different depending on where we are born. And not everybody has a voice that is listen to. We need to change this, and the Sustainable Development Goals is a framework for everyone to do something.

During the five months I am doing an internship in New York, I wish to contribute with two things:

  1. Share some of my own experiences from my time at the UN. Showing how the UN works and that the UN should be a place for all, because it’s principles (the Human Rights, Equality, Peace and Security) should be part of everybody’s lives.
  2. Try to give voice to the people who do not have the same opportunities and choices, and hence, strive for changing this notion. For instance, I will be doing interviews with young people who push for change and are showing that we the young peoples are actors too.

I hope that it could contribute to create a little bit more knowledge about the UN, the SDGs, and the role of youth, as well as inspire more people to take actions. Because we the peoples should all be equals.

What will be your contribution for transforming our world?

sdg_cgiar

 

The French University system as I understand it

Salut!

I made it! I completed my last lecture at SciencePo Bordeaux today! What a strange feeling, the semester passed by so quickly. Feels like I just arrived a month ago but it´s already way more. Now I have two weeks to prepare for the exams and write one essay, seems doable. In this post I´ll talk about the french university system and my experiences with it.

Science Po is a grand ecole, so technically not a university but is very prestigious. As an Erasmus student it felt like a “normal” university, when you see how the program is for the regular students you notice a difference. There is no Bachelor/Master system, the equivalent to both is 5 years. Students have to apply and go to the entry test, I witnessed this last week, so strange to see all these kids and parents at uni. SciencePo does not offer a lot of spots, it´s highly competitive and to get in you have to have outstanding good grades (not that great, if so you would study in Paris). Also something strange: exams on Saturday mornings, I mean WHYYYY?? Students have a large choice of courses and usually do a one year exchange. They have “culture generalle” courses, where they literally learn general knowledge (extremely franco centric, never heard of some people that they constantly talk about, who´s that Gambetta guy again?). All other things seems rather straight forward and students do the same things as any other student does around the world.

Now to my impressions. I´ll have to disappoint you: I´m not impressed SciencePo!

I had rather high expectations. I knew that the French right insanely long exams, have a very strict structure for their essay and that they not the most academic (they don´t really get referencing for example). But overall I thought that I would be kinda challenged here. But no. At this point I actually have to praise Korea University, I learned a lot of things that I can apply in various courses. NEVER thought that I would think this way! In some way te French and Korean system is similar since critical thinking or just “thinking” is nowhere to be found. The professor does this monologue, students transcribe the lecture (WORD FOR WORD) and just reproduce knowledge in the exam. This is not how I imagine university to be and especially when your studying something as much contested (literally everything) you should be able to have some sort of opinion!

I talked to some people, and asked about their opinion concerning the education. The Erasmus students are disappointed and we all agree that our home university is way better. Other regular students praise that SciencePO are very well equipped for their masters and jobs, this is probably true just makes be even more concerned about the french university system (CAN IT GET EVEN WORSE??).

So overall,academically I haven´t received the quality that I had expected.

Now to some positive stuff, you wouldn´t believe it but there are some!

Some of the professors are excellent (!!!). Most of my professors are highly dedicated and really know their stuff. One of my profs did this phd in Somalia, such a rebel (warning: ambiguous for the sake of humor). Others just are hilarious, I always enjoy listening to the jokes of my french lecturer, he comments on everything in a very implicit way. I always have a good time, especially when he mocks French politicians. I attend lectures where I learn things which are relevant, where other points of view are presented and we have discussions. But somehow I feel like this is just in the English Track courses, the French ones are lecture-based oral. I show up to all the lectures, take notes (bullet points) and critically process what was just said. One professor really pushes through his own perceptive but he is very honest about it (“In my opinion…”). He always states that we can argue against him, ähm not happening in the exam, he´s very intimidating. I think of counterarguments in my head instead, practices your debating skills 🙂

Another great things, we only have finals and that´s it. No extra reading only recommended ones (and let´s face it NO one reads those). I have a lot of free time besides lectures to have fun and enjoy France, since I never go to the library as there is no reason to do so. The system requires you to go to the lectures (you should, since some professors don´t do ppts) and then revise for the exams at the end of the semester. Overall a pretty nice student life. No bug research papers that keep you super busy for at least a week like in Malmö. Most of the exams are multiple choice or orals (loves those).

Since I got finals coming up I´ll be studying and being productive (feeling like a real student). Probably gonna study in my room, since the library is under construction and it gets really noisy at some times.

Hope this was interesting. Maybe you´d love the french system, everyone as they please. I don´t however I love Bordeaux, my Erasmus and every day here. Could not have changed a thing looking back. Bordeaux was the right choice and it got me somewhere academically besides from improving my French: I realized that Malmö is awesome and that I will never ever study in France!

Have a great week!

Lena