If you are an international student starting your studies in Paris, this is for you! I will be starting my second year of my M.Sc. in Neuroscience on September 1st, and I wanted to share my experience from last year.
I arrived in Paris in July 2021 looking forward to starting my M.Sc. in Neuroscience at Université de Paris, but I remember being confused about how it would go! There was little communication from the program coordinators beforehand and I was used to the super organized Canadian system, where we had our schedule 6 months in advance.
So here are some things you can expect:
There is a pré-rentrée usually around September 1st. This is when the program coordinators or faculty will explain the curriculum, expectations within the program and the calendar for the upcoming academic year. So don’t expect to have your class schedule months before starting your master’s! Organization in France, from my experience, is very limited and even class schedules change on a weekly-basis.
You probably won’t need any textbooks. I suggest you prepare a few notebooks if that is how you like to take notes/study, pens, a lab coat if you are in a scientific program with TP (Travaux Pratiques, i.e. labs).
Get used to the terminology. French people love their acronyms! Travaux Pratiques (TP) are laboratory classes. For example, I had a Neuropharmacology TP, where we did experiments with mice similar to introduce us Neuroscience research. Travaux Dirigés (TD) are tutorials where we got to work through problems, examples of analyzing and interpreting research article data and results, or we had oral presentations. Knowing the difference between these terms and asking professors about how to prepare for them would be a good idea if you are not familiar with this format.
Use the first week to bond with your classmates, go out and discover Paris before the studying starts. The first few weeks are the perfect time to explore your new city and make friends to study with. After that, the semester will go by very quickly! So, enjoy it while you can!
I hope these tips are useful! Have a great 2022-2023 academic year, filled with growth, learning, meeting new people and discovering new places!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about starting your studies in France!