Exchange Stories

An Unforgettable Experience in France

Publish Time:2016-12-09   View:259


The principal reason I choose Jinan University attributes to the international atmosphere in School of management in Jinan University. The international atmosphere not only includes the students and professors from all over the world but also the abundant international exchange programs. Since the first day in JNU, I keep noticing the exchange programs for MBA students. Having the experience studying in America, Australia and China, I wish to go to Europe for this time. As a result, I select EM (Ecole de Management de Normandie) and set off for France in February 2016.

EM lies in Normandie District, the northwest Paris. The school, one of the long-lived management colleges, was established in 1871. There are five campuses: Cane, Le Havre, Deauville in Normandie, Paris Campus and Cambridge Campus in UK. EM obtains the accreditation from AACSM and EFMD in America and ranks the 69th in global management subject list in Financial and 21th among French Business Colleges listed by Etudiant.


Due to my time arrangement, I select the course “international business” in Deauville. The course is different from traditional two-semester syllabus but divides by four short semesters. And each semester lasts two months. The class ranges from September to next April. Then thesis and internship starts from the May to November in the second year. I join the program in the last short semester.


The weather gradually came warm in Guangzhou in February, but France still stayed in cold interval between winter and spring. At first, I was surprised by the rather small size of Deauville Campus. In this campus, there is only one two-level building with less than 50 students. Among them, there are 10 or more students of my International Business Class and 20 more students of MIEC (Convention and Exhibition Management) Class. Only three standing teaching staff work on this campus. Therefore, the director of the management noticed my confusion upon my coming into the School. He smiled and explained to me that EM consists of many campuses and Deauville Campus turns out to be the smallest one. The universities and colleges in France are quite different from ones in China. However, the main campus in Cane and Le Havre are fairly big. The director assured me that the qualification of teaching staff and the teaching team are well-established. In the end, the director smiled seeming to give me a suspense, “You will know more if you take the class.”


The first day in school feels great. The classmates welcomed me warmly and they have been informed of my study in EM in last semester. There were four classes in this semester according to the class arrangement as following, Strategic Management, International Business Law, The management of international programs, Global Political Economics and one Business Competition. Among the teaching staff, there are professors dedicated to scholar study and also professionals from all kinds of industry. For example, the teacher of Strategic Management was once a CEO in Best Western Hotel Group. Whereas at present, he tried to co-found his own hotel with his wife in order to make his ideas come true. For the teacher of International Business Law, she was well-experienced in dealing with the international business. Her class was embedded with obvious practical value. In a week-study, she had summarized the basic learning points and theory in the first two days. Then she put us into actual practice in the third day. We were asked to point out the errors in a piles of business contracts. The next step was to simulate an international negotiation and a group of two students need to prepare materials for the negotiation and then negotiate with our rival groups next day. In terms of business competition, it was similar to our PBL (problem-based learning, PBL) program in MBA study. Students are divided into different groups and each group has to work as a unit. A unit need to select a local company as sample and make out a detailed strategy and steps for the corporate long-time development. I have been well-informed of French business colleges’ education of world-level business elites but I have really experienced the practical teaching method in a French business school. This is a very good example of French business education.


Although there were many classes in study period, we had a relatively relaxed atmosphere. Teachers often wield enlightening method in order to motivate us to discuss with each other and learn from them. If we had any problems or controversial issues, we were free to consult for our teacher anytime which would even contribute to a heated discussion. The teachers valued our independent and critical thinking, or in other words, the creative answers rather than the simply assessing right or wrong.


The studying schedule was rather flexible comparing to the one in Jinan University. We normally take three days to learn a week and each day would have three to six hours. If we took intensive learning schedule, there would be four-days to five-days classes in a week. Sweetly, the teacher would spare the enough time for us to finish the most tasks. Frenchmen cared about the balance among study, work and life. This could be evidenced from their attitudes in spending weekends. Weekends for them were good occasion to do a family trip, hang out with lovers or group party for friends rather than overtime or sleeping. Therefore, it was no wonder that Frenchmen would greet each other with the questions like, “How is your weekend?” and they would discuss with their friends on the plans when another weekend is near.



My classmates in EM were quite young. Some of them had worked for one or two year then continue to study. And other classmates had directly register for master program in EM. They were all energetic and active-thinking. They were very considerate because they would speak in English with each other if there are any foreign students in the occasion. All of them showed interest in China. In the hall of teaching building, there was a world map and every student could place a colored hobnail on the location of their hometown. When I introduced China to them, they were amazed at China’s wide range of territory. One classmate measured on the map and exclaim, “My Goodness! The distance between Shanghai and Chengdu is even the two times of that between Paris in France and Budapest in Hungry!” We had gotten along well with each other. Sometimes we would have a drink in the bar of the downtown. Everyone chewed the rag with each other and drank bear to their heart’s content. On weekends, hospital classmates would invite us to have a party at home. We would be welcomed by wine, snacks, music and dance. The free and romantic character of Frenchman fully expressed at party.


From the communication with French classmates, I came to know many details of high education systems in France. There are high business colleges and public universities in French education systems. The public universities open to students without charge of fees which they rely on government subsidies, and their teaching language is French. Business colleges require a certain amount of fees but the teaching language is either English or French. The business colleges are run by regional business associations or big corporates. Owing to this condition, French Business colleges provide students with a lot of chances for internship and work to provide good chances for students. In EMB, there are two-year period Grande Ecole and one-year period MSc. In the Grande Ecole, students will learn basic courses of management in the first year. And in the second year, students choose courses based on their interests or career expectation. They would have one semester or one year to study overseas. At each end of the year, they would intern in companies. For MSc courses, there is more systematic division like Convention and Exhibition Management, Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management. They would need half year of internship to graduate beyond one full-year study. In our class, French students take a big percentage. In the past year, they have welcomed exchange students from different countries. Then French students have studied overseas in undergraduate or graduate period. Some went to other European countries and some even arrived at South America. French studying system is quite flexible, for instance, one classmate has gone to work for some time when he/she finished the first year study in school and then came back to continue the second year study. It is said that French Business colleges charge high fees, Therefore, some students would work first to collect enough money to study a semester and then work again to raise the money for continued education. Flexible studying systems help them have high independence in designing their studying patterns.


At the end of semester, students were busing finding the chances of internship because they need at least six months of work to graduate. At the same time, internship means a crucial step for students to have a good job and join in the working field. Every day, my classmates would send CV on the website or send emails to the expected companies. As a result of stagnation of French economy, students had fewer chances to work as interns. My classmates would feel confused and sad once or a while. Romain, one of my classmates, has a father who founded a company inventory verification. And his father has done a good job and the company became the second largest one of the industry in France. However, Romain still tries to find internship. I asked him the reason why he refused to work in his father’s company. He told me that he did not want to take advantage of his father and was willing to find job on his own. In June, Romain finally received an offer from a company in Shanghai. I felt happy for him!

At the end of the semester, we were informed that the Deauville Campus would be closed forever upon we finished our courses. The courses would be transferred to the other four campuses. That means we are the last group of students in Deauville Campus of EM. Hence school rent a chateau to hold an graduation party for us students. The money partly came from school and partly came from the money we spent on the coffee and other vendor machines. Coming from us, benefiting us! The part ended as a success and the MIEC students made use of their professional knowledge. And we were all impressed by the successful organization of the plan, publicizing, food preparation and games in the party.

During the two months in France, I have interacted with advanced teaching ideas of French Business Schools, harvest friendship and broaden my horizon. Moreover, I feel my MBA study a satisfactory one with such an unforgettable experience.