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HSE Campus in St. PetersburgNewsExchange Student in France

Exchange Student in France

Angi Skhvediani, a fourth-year Management student, recently spent a semester as an exchange student at Audencia Ecole de Management in Nantes. Angi spoke to the HSE News Service about his everyday student life in France.

Angi decided to take part in an exchange programme and chose France, since he wanted to get experience of living and studying in another country. He chose Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management. This is a strong business school, which offers practice-oriented education, with a combination of subjects and focus on International Strategic Management and Consulting. Angi told the HSE News Service about his experience.

— How did you get into the exchange programme? Was the competition high?

—It was pretty simple: I wrote a motivation letter, where I described in detail why I wanted to study in Nantes and how I had come to the idea to take on consulting. I attached my CV with all my achievements (conference presentations, participation in schools and projects, organizations of academic and leisure events at the faculty, etc). After some time I received a letter from the HSE-St. Petersburg International Office, confirming that I was enrolled. I was very happy, since the next step of my life plan had started to be realized successfully.

— What does the study process at Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management look like?

—First, I’d like to explain a few details about the combination mentioned above. It included six subjects  plus two elective courses, which lasted for the first two weeks of study, and French language lessons, which I attended on Mondays. According to the programme, these six subjects were supposed to make up about 24-30 hours a week, and about the same amount of time was assigned for self-study learning.

I was spending my entire evenings reading and preparing for huge cases on Consulting in Informational Business and Consulting in International Business, which I had to present the next day.

— How do students interact with each other and what does the extracurricular life look like?

—The model is very simple: when you enter the university, you pay a membership fee of EUR250 for four years. This money is used for all student events (but this doesn’t make the tickets to them free). At the end of the year, an audit commission checks all the expenses and makes their conclusion.

My fellow students were  good fun and open people. I had people aged 20 to 27 in my class. About 40% of them were French, and the rest were from Great Britain, Germany, China, India, Norway, Sweden, Columbia, and Morocco. Most of them were older than me and were already master’s students. But the level of my skills and knowledge was comparable with theirs. One should also be prepared for problems with English, since people from various countries have various strong accents. You get used to it, but at the beginning you always have to ask to them repeat what they’ve said.

— What disciplines did you like most?

—Most of all I liked the part of the Consulting Projects course that was read by experts from Weave Consulting, as well as the part of Consulting Soft Skills read by a lecturer from Great Britain. I liked the first part due to the many practical skills I received, and the second one thanks to the interactive approach to teaching – each time the lecturer organized various business simulations and games for us. I did not face any special difficulties with my studies, except for the need for strict time management and a lack of time for leisure and entertainment.

— Angi, what was the key skill you received during your study abroad?

—I learned to apply the theory studied at HSE to practical tasks given by Audencia.

— What differences did you notice between the approaches to education at a Russian and French university?

—HSE mostly teaches theoretical concepts. They are comparatively rarely applied in practical cases. Education is more relaxed and is more aimed at developing individual skills and individual assessment of a student’s competencies. Audencia is mostly practical. There are a lot of cases but a lack of theoretical background. For example, I was virtually the only student who knew 80% of the theory taught at Audencia and was able to answer theoretical questions without preparation. The education in the concentration is intensive, since its main task is ‘to prepare high-class experts in consulting over 3.5 months of work on solving problems in management and strategic development’. Most of the work is carried out as part of a team. The focus is on teamwork skills and the achievements of the team as a whole, not its individual members.

Prepared by Natalia Gross