When I heard about Erasmus Program through iconnect and the seminar that I attended, I was motivated to apply to this program. My colleague in third year had the opportunity to go as an undergrad and told us it was an amazing experience. I started gathering more information and preparing my papers for the application; I chose Nantes and Perpignan as my choices. I used to pass by Ms. Amani Bsat «BAU International Relations Office» because I had many questions. She was extremely helpful and always responded to my questions. After submitting all my papers online before the deadline, I waited patiently for an answer (fingers crossed). Two to three months later, I got a positive reply! I was so excited about the good news of receiving a scholarship to pursue my master’s degree at « UPVD ». Holding a bachelor’s degree in Accounting I decided to continue my higher education in the field of « Tourism and Hotel Management » which I don’t regret doing at all. On September 2015, I arrived to Perpignan, where my adventures began. Madame « Simona Brajou » the person responsible of Erasmus students under Peace Program welcomed us. She is an amazing person who is always ready to help.
Before I came to Perpignan , I signed up for a program called « Parrainnage ». The purpose of this program is to help new arrival students by telling them places to go, helping them with paperwork like «CAF», insurance, etc.
Perpignan is a calm city in the South of France. It is approximately 2 hours away from Barcelona and is not very crowded, with Mediterranean weather. It is only 10 minutes away from the sea «Canet Plage» and 25 minutes from the mountains so you can ski in the winter. It’s really very similar to Lebanon.
I had full time courses and was evaluated by one final exam. In order to validate your masters, you have to do a 3-4-month internship which is obligatory as well as submit a thesis.
As I had studied for 4 years and graduated with a Bachelor’s, I was eligible to pass directly for Master 2, but since it was my first experience studying abroad, I preferred to do Master 1 in order to spend more time there. My scholarship program was a 10-month period. After obtaining my Master 1, I wanted to stay to get my Master 2.
Basically, Perpignan is not very expensive. Accommodation (hebergement) costs 200 euros after the CAF (Caisse Allocation Familiale). During my stay, I lived in La Cité Universitaire (dorms).
Most important thing to try in any country is the food! Well, actually there’s no food like LEBANESE FOOD obviously (shawerma ,taboule the list goes on….) There was only one Lebanese restaurant in the town center. I used to go there whenever I missed Lebanese food. It was only after I left Perpignan for good, did 2 new Lebanese restaurants open! Chance! You can eat in RU « restau universitaire » where you can have a meal for 3.25 euros. This meal includes a starter, main meal, desert and bread.
Concerning public transportation, you can have annual subscription (abonnement) or buy a ticket with 10 passes for 8 euros approximately, or have an A/R Ticket. You can reach the outskirts of the city (Collioure, Argeles Sur Mer, Barcares, Ile Sur Tet) by paying only 1 euro which is around 1500 LBP. There are two booklets for the bus station; one for summer and one for winter season. Since the time changes, it has all the bus numbers, where they are going, and the time they are passing! They are usually always on time, arriving maybe 1 minute early or late .In addition, you can get a 1-euro ticket train to visit other cities through the website www.train1euro.fr. This train can take you to Nîimes, Carcassonne, and Avignon. The concept is that you have to reserve in advance in order to get this price and sometimes you find tickets in the early morning. You pay online and you get your e-ticket. There’s also « Le Train Jaune » or the yellow train which goes to the mountains.
I used to utilize« Blabla car» if I wanted to go to Toulouse, Montpellier or Barcelone. It’s a carpooling website where the driver puts an announcement that he’s going to a place with a specific timing and you pay online to reserve your seat. The price ranges between 10-15 euros. It depends from which city you’re leaving and to where you’re heading.
Being dynamic and sociable by nature, I am always interested in attending different events. For this, I registered in « Cordés de la Réussite » where you are responsible of a teenage student in school. It is an individual tutoring program based on methodology of work, orientation, and cultural openness.
I really loved Perpignan and even though I spent 1 year and a half there, I haven’t been able to visit all the wonderful places.
Erasmus is a once in a life time adventure. It lets you discover new culture, travel, be open-minded individual, meet students and people from all over the world, and more! It is truly an amazing experience that I advise you all to apply to even if with another program. It will broaden your horizon and you will feel more responsible. It is absolutely the best experience I have ever had so far! Of course, I have passed through Post-Erasmus depression! It is nice after all to see your family and friends! I will never stop travelling! I will always venture out and seek to go on trips to discover and meet new people! I hope that I have given you the motivation to study or work abroad!