Verity Roberts, 2013-2014 at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat, Heidelberg

Top ten things

1. The Schloss: Heidelberg feels like a mixture of Oxford, York and Durham: it’s a quaint town nestled between two hills on the river Neckar, and the Uni is the oldest in Germany. It’s therefore no wonder that it’s full of american and japanese tourists photographing the architecture. This beautiful castle ruin is where they go first. This icon of HD isn’t just for visitors – your climb is rewarded by a stunning panoramic view over the town, as far as the hills of the beautiful Pfalz wine region. The ‘Schlossbeleuchtungen’ spread out over three separate nights between June and September draw a huge crowd: the castle is specially lit up and fireworks shoot up from the castle on the hill and the ‘Altebrücke’ below, their reflection shimmering in the river.

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Oscar Davies, 2014-2015 at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

Studying

The ENS is a very prestigious place to be at in France academically, being one of the few grandes écoles that exist. I was inspired to apply here because famous theorists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron studied here at some point in their careers. If you get to go as an exchange student, you are extremely fortunate in that you do not have to pass the notoriously difficult French entrance exams. There is also an important difference in the type of student you will meet at ENS: an elève is accepted via the concours and is remunerated by the state (i.e. paid monthly), whilst an étudiant applies via dossier and is not remunerated. Regardless, because it is so hard to get in,you will meet highly intelligent and intellectually stimulating people who all have something to say in a conversation; they are especially receptive to international students, perhaps because the university itself is has only a fraction of the students in comparison to King’s.

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Violeta Todorova, 2013-2014 at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III)

Accommodation

Finding accommodation was one of the hardest parts of living in Paris.  Firstly, even as a study abroad student, you are not guaranteed housing.  I was not allocated a spot in the university accommodation.  The ones associated with Parisian universities are not located in the best areas of Paris.  However, they are convenient and most likely cheaper than anything else you will find.  I believe that it’s worth applying in May just to see if university housing is an option for you.

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Catherine Palethorpe, 2012-2013 at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Weekend activities

Circulo de Bellas Artes: On this rooftop, a hidden gem which is free for students of Carlos III on presentation of a student card, you can find a stunning view of the whole of Madrid. It’s best to go while it’s still warm and just before the sun is setting to see one of the most beautiful sights of Madrid! With a swanky rooftop bar and sunloungers… you certainly won’t feel like you haven’t paid to experience what feels like a VIP setting!

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