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A Semester in France

Two students of Nosov Magnitogorsk State Technical University, Alexey Avramenko and Maxim Anikushin, returned from Jean Monnet University (Saint-Etienne, France), where they studied under the exchange program within one semester.

At NMSTU Alexey studies metal forming processes; Maxim, mechatronics and robotics. The French university could not offer the exact majors. Therefore, Alexey studied in the major of mechanical engineering; Maxim, electrical engineering and industrial computer science. This was useful: the guys obtained additional knowledge and experience in related majors.

– Why study in France?


– First of all, we had much practical experience: we had projects to work on. One of them is designing of a two-wheel skateboard. Every Friday we were working for four hours in protective clothing and dust masks on milling and lathe machines, performing water jet cutting, stamping and bending of steel sheets. We have much less such practice at NMSTU.

We took examinations every week, on Thursdays. Studied some material on this or that course – took an examination. Then you continue studying the course and examination questions include questions about new units and already passed ones. A final examination is devoted to all studied units. An average grade is calculated for every exam. During last examination week we took three or four examinations per day. Totally, there were about 30 examinations in various courses. It is not easy. An average grade is stated in the student’s record book.


– We did not have any courses on humanities. We studied only special courses, which may be useful in our future profession. The schedule was changed almost every week; sometimes we had much more hours of studies than in Russia. For example, on Mondays we studied from 8 a.m. till 7 p.m., having a one-hour break for lunch. We took examinations within a period of our study; in the end, an average grade was calculated. Moreover, we performed group and individual projects, which were equal to course papers; second-year students manufacture drones. As for programming, students work in pairs: an assignment was to write any program in the studied language to show your knowledge.

– Where did you live?


– On campus, four minutes away from the university on foot. We lived in single dormitory rooms. Nobody bothers you; it is quiet and clean. If students make noise, a receptionist will go upstairs and ask them be quiet, and that is all. On every floor there is a room to get prepared for courses. A kitchen, toilet and shower rooms are shared.

– Did you make friends with local students?


– The dormitory was full mainly with French students. They purchase food and cook together. In the weekday evenings I met them and we discussed social policy; a student from the history department told us about interesting historical facts.

There are several universities in Saint-Etienne. ENIS offers master’s degree programs. Its dormitory is 15 minutes away on foot. About 10 Russian-speaking students lived there and we all made friends.

In the beginning I was silent in classes, but French students somehow learnt that I was from Russia and took an initiative in sharing a desk and getting acquainted. So, I made friends from the very beginning.

Besides, the international department of Jean Monnet University very often held joint events for foreign students: a bowling game, very tasty dinner. There were a lot of various activities, but I studied hard and did not have much time to visit all of them.


– I do not have any difficulties with attending such events and participated almost in all of them.


– French students also hold events; every department has its own trade union in a way. Junior students are mentored by senior ones who organize interesting student life.

At first, we felt a language barrier, but thanks to French courses and language practice it was removed. So, do not be afraid to visit a foreign country, you can make friends everywhere.

– What are your impressions about the city and the French?


– Saint-Etienne is a quiet and small city. There are many museums where entrance for students is free. There are cinema theatres and small restaurants.

Atmosphere in France is friendly; the French have a different mentality. They wish you, “Have a nice day”, and if somebody accidentally rubs up against you, he or she will say, “Sorry, my fault”.

We will try to visit once again this nice country and our French friends.

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