In this issue I am going to be looking at holidays, and more precisely just how much we seem to be getting here in Paris. I should say from the outset that our term finishes later than at Imperial: 30th June is when the year ends so it all comes out in the wash. However, I find that summers are long enough as they are and I am happy to sacrifice a couple of weeks then to break up the rest of the year.
So how does it all pan out? For starters, after the three week introductory course taken by all foreign students there is a five day long weekend. A group of Erasmus students took this is an opportunity to hire a car and tour around Brittany. Then two weeks into term proper there is a week's holiday to coincide with the All Saints Day which is a public holiday in France. The student society at the École des Ponts organised a trip to Prague costing next to peanuts for those who were lucky enough to get a place.
At the end of November we have "European Week" which as an opportunity to go and study a subject for a long list of possibilities at one of twenty partner institutions across Europe. The week is subsidised but as money is limited the French get priority over the Erasmus students because the latter are already abroad. Unsuccessful in my application to go to Milan to learn how to build sustainable housing, I am staying in Paris to take a course on International Relations. On the other hand, others have taken it as an opportunity to go on another week-long holiday.
We are given two weeks for Christmas but because here it is a semester system, the first semester continues until February, after which there is another week's holiday to help you relax before the second semester. This week in February is the perfect opportunity to get down to the Alps and get some skiing in. Again the student society organises an ultra cheap trip that is very popular in the department. And as though that were not enough, to break up the six weeks between these two winter holidays there is a long weekend written into the timetable in mid-January with the express purpose of giving people another chance to go skiing.
As for holidays in the second semester, it really rather depends on where we do our final placement, which is the equivalent of the fourth year project at Imperial. The project is either completed in the department or in a company. Given the precedent set by the first semester, I don't expect to be disappointed.
So where did I spend the All Saints Holiday. Well, I am on a whistle-stop tour of the Balkans taking in Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade and Budapest, from where I am sending this article. If you want to read about what I found there or any more about the life and times of an Erasmus student in Paris, then check out my blog:
eiffelover.wordpress.com. Right, I?ve got a train to catch...