A Very Constructive Beating February 06, 2021

By (Economics and Intl. Relations, Sciences Po Paris in Menton) - abroad from 09/01/2019 to 05/31/2021 with

Sciences Po Paris in Menton: Menton - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot on basically everything, especially on living somewhat autonomously. The classes were good oftentimes, but force you to fend for yourself when it comes to learning, socializing, self-management and organization. It's a concussive but constructive experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Sciences Po Menton is a rigorous academic experience, even if it doesn't intend to be. It is an intense course, even if this intensity is for the wrong reasons half the time. By all accounts this campus should not function, but people still learn from it regardless - on personal and academic levels. If you want to learn personal responsibility, self-propelled work ethic, and an utter disdain for all administration, then Menton is the right place for you. If you want a stressful, beautiful, and often chaotic personal life, then Menton is the right place for you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Dealing with the administration at Sciences Po Menton is like being a Romani in Hungary. You can't do shit and you're going to get beat up (mentally.) I am well aware of the stereotypes towards French bureaucracy, but the Sciences Po Menton administration managed to completely break these preconceptions of mine - by surpassing them in every way. They have mastered the cinematic art of subversion, astounding me with failures so creative and absurd that I couldn't possibly see them coming. There is certainly a benefit here. Being a Sciences Po Menton student gives an amazing perspective on just how whingey other university students are. Aw, your administration only shortened classes by 10 minutes because of students being overworked? Ours added an additional 4 hours a week and barely has a mental health service at all. Aw, your COVID testing service on campus went down for two days? Our administration didn't provide any to begin with. Your class got cancelled and it took three days to reschedule? Our registration site didn't work and it took three weeks to stabilize the schedule. It is shocking difficult for me to imagine more witty comparisons here, because it is now hard to imagine what students on actual campuses would complain about.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living off campus is what every student does, and it is an incredible experience. I would recommend the campus on this basis alone to anyone who is more independent-minded. There are no living arrangements on campus, a fact I thank god for on a daily basis. Having our living arrangements managed by the administration would be, in a word, unlivable. Living in apartments or town housing in Menton, on the other hand, is incredible. My first year we stayed in the town dorms that directly overlook the beach, meaning we woke up every morning to a Cote D'Azur sunrise while only paying 270 Euro a month. My second year I rented an apartment with two friends, paying only around 300 Euro a month, and it's some of the most autonomy and most fun I've ever had in my life.

* Food:

Sciences Po Menton does not have a cafeteria, unless two vending machines in the student room count in that regard. It must be said that these machines more aptly represent modern French cuisine for most students or youth - disgusting processed boxes of cardboard noodles or dry sandwiches that even a poor Mississippian schoolchild wouldn't eat. Why is this 3.5 stars then? Because your time at Sciences Po Menton forces its lofty student body to learn how to cook for once. Sciences Po Menton students can address the hunger crisis in real time, by learning how to make something a starving child would actually want to eat. Unless you plan to eat takeout for two years, cooking is a must - and once you realize how bad your amateur meals are, you'll make them better and better until you're the equivalent of a fine chef by US campus standards. Sciences Po Menton does not offer food, but it does offer a great impromptu cooking course as you manage your own damn dinner for once.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Cultural integration with the community is somewhat difficult. Many are either elderly and stick to themselves, others are tourists who don't stay too long. But with enough effort to learn French, meshing with the culture and community of Menton is easy and exciting to do. Most of your interactions will be with fellow students at Science Po, but it's such a diverse group that it never ceases to be interesting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The city of Menton has decent health services and can respond well to medical emergencies. There are several pharmacies, a hospital, and with insurance you will pay barely anything. However, when it comes to the campus, not so much. The best thing I can compare the health services at Sciences Po Menton to is an Eastern European party regime. They're lazy and incompetent, even outright harmful, but they know you can't do shit about it. This isn't even an exaggeration, sadly enough. During the pandemic, the administration failed (or maybe didn't attempt) to organize mass testing for the student body. The BDE (our student association) stepped up twice in their place to conduct the testing, working with anyone from the Monaco Red Cross to the Nice health services to get it running. To juxtapose these massive efforts from the students, the administration provided no support whatsoever, and refused to provide a space for testing on campus the first round of testing. The third time, however, the administration took an active role - that is, actively protecting their 'competent image' by kneecapping the BDE student efforts. This wasn't just by refusing a space for testing on campus again. In a move that would be more expected from Bulgaria than a French university, the administration called the mayor's office of Menton to requested the BDE be restricted from using any town spaces again. The testing ended up occurring in a literal apartment. Even under normal circumstances, things simply don't work. The physician on campus only comes for (nominally) 5 hours a day, with a schizophrenic schedule. Mental health services, as said before, mind as well not exist. In short, you best have some sort of healthcare coming to Sciences Po Menton. The only benefit from their approach may be the now rugged immune systems of the student body.

* Safety:

Menton is an incredibly safe city to live in, populated by old people who probably haven't seen a crime committed since the Vichy days, much less committed one themselves. The city is an amazing place to live, secure to walk through, and the tight knit student body keeps everyone quite safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I'd much rather pay 12.5k a year in total expenses in Menton per year and get to live on the French Riviera than have my skull bashed in by 80k tuition fees and depressing dorms in the US or UK.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

It's easy to live on a student budget if you actually can budget. Rent is the largest cost for most people, but groceries aren't too expensive and you can live on quite little per week in expenses.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100 to 150 including rent, food, etc.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't order takeout. Especially not from Frites City, even if it's absolutely delicious.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The foreign language program is the equivalent of a roulette wheel. You might get an amazing teacher and learn well in your two hour sessions, or you might get a teacher who uses a textbook from 1990. Either way, you have to work a lot on your own to actually progress, but the good teachers and programs make it worth it. Aside from the bizzare rule that B2 level French is required to take any other language course, the language programs can be very good.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A2
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Tough stuff buckaroo, you just have to practice a lot.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Challenging courses
  • Good professors (sometimes)
  • The social network of students
* What could be improved?
  • The administration
  • The class organization
  • Any services whatsoever
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew what I was in for.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.