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Noella Dotto

SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Marketing

Experience Faculty
My experience on exchange was a once in a lifetime opportunity that helped me foster new connections with friends from all over the world. I gained a lot of insight into what it is like to work with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation
Previous Experience

Although I had been to Europe a few times in the past, nothing had prepared me for the amount of planning I needed to do for this exchange.  From booking flights, accommodation, and budgeting there are so many things to think about it becomes overwhelming at times. However, once it is all booked and planned there is a sense of relief that everything will eventually work out.

Location Research

For my exchange I knew I wanted to do a short-term program right from the beginning. Sometimes the semesters at other partnering schools overlap with more than one semester at SFU so I thought a short-term summer exchange was my best option in not having any conflict. After deciding on a short-term program I knew I wanted to do an exchange in Europe. Kedge School of Business caught my attention as they had a wide range of programs/courses and a few different campuses across France to choose from. The short-term summer program is very unique in that you can choose to take classes at any campus over the course of summer. I ended up choosing the Bordeaux campus because it had the classes I was most interested in.

Financial Preparation

One of my main factors that helped me financially prepare for this exchange was that I had worked part-time saving my money over the course of the past 4 years. From working I was able to save enough money to go on this trip. Unfortunately due to my program being short-term I was not able to be granted any scholarships. I spent a lot of time budgeting out accommodation, day to day spending and other travel plans I had in mind such as AirBnbs, train/plane tickets, etc..


Packing was not too difficult for the length of my exchange especially because I would only need to bring summer clothes. My main concern was that I was travelling with a full size suitcase (not carry on) and I did not want my luggage to get lost in transit as this has been a major problem with travelling to Europe recently.

Travel and Transportation

I booked my flight in advance and arriving in Europe went smoothly. I flew directly from Vancouver to Amsterdam and visited a friend that was just finishing her spring semester on exchange there. From Amsterdam I flew to Bordeaux. No flights out of Vancouver fly directly to Bordeaux so it worked out that I got to visit my friend for a week prior to starting school. Transportation in Bordeaux is very easy and accessible. They have multiple metro lines that run throughout the city.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

One of my main tips is simple but it is to plan ahead! It all comes up very fast and all of the sudden you are leaving. It's best not to leave organizing your exchange till the last minute as accommodation, flights, other transportation, etc. all start to book up quickly especially during the summer months in Europe.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My program was short and fast paced meaning there wasn’t a lot of time for orientation. On the first day we had a school representative meet a group of us at our accommodation and help guide us on the best route to get to school. From there we had a short welcome breakfast and presentation with the whole class.

Accommodation and Living

When I decided to go on exchange, one of my friends in Beedie also planned to go on exchange to the same school with me so we decided it would be best to room together. Kedge was very helpful with organizing our accommodation. My friend and I stayed in a third party residence apartment down the street from the school that was affiliated with Kedges short-term summer program. Many other students were staying in this building as well. The residence was similar to a hotel. There was a continental breakfast you could pay for but there was also a small kitchen in every room for a more independent living feature.

Learning and Adaptation

Lecture format was similar to what I was expecting, which included 3 hours of lecture in the morning, free time in the afternoon and a cultural activity every Friday. We were graded on one group presentation and one test on the last day of classes. Class size was a lot smaller than I anticipated. There were only around 20 of us, however, this made it easier to get to know people and make friends.

Accomplishments and Challenges

One of my main accomplishments is putting myself out of my comfort zone. Flying alone and finding your way around a new city can be daunting but I am glad I got to experience it. One challenge I did face was that there were riots going on around the city for a few days due to an incident that happened in Paris during my time in France. This made safety a huge concern and I had to be careful where I was going at night. Transportation was also impacted by the riots which made it quite difficult to keep exploring the city and do activities with friends. Another challenge was the language barrier. Although my class was in English, sometimes it was difficult to speak to locals when French is not my first language.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

Kedge had a student-run organization that ran different events and excursions for international students in the short-term program. One of the days they took us on a city tour. They also took us to the best local bars and helped recommend the best nightlife spots. On the weekends they hosted small events such as an international picnic at the park. I made so many memorable memories with the friends I met during my time in France. I am so glad I got to experience the social aspect of being on exchange!

Reflection & Tips
Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

One of the most valuable aspects I learned from this experience is that things may not always go as planned but it is okay and you have to learn how to adapt. You always want things to go picture perfect as you planned for something you have been looking forward to for what feels like forever. That is not always the case! Life happens and stuff happens out of your control. What you can control is your reaction and how you deal with it. Being flexible and adaptable is one of the biggest lessons I learned from this experience.

Advice for Future Students

My biggest piece of advice for anyone interested in going on exchange is to put yourself out there and make new friends. In such a short time I was able to make lasting friendships with the people I had met on exchange. Building connections with new people from all over the world was such an eye opening experience. Everyone's life experiences are so different it gave me a new perspective on life.