7pm, my last exam finished. 10pm I was on my flight to Europe. Crazy right? Two weeks before my flight I didn’t even know I was going to Europe, just the casual weekday leading into the exam week when I get an email from UTS BUILD regarding my application from several weeks back, “Congrats!” it says. An opportunity I would not miss, France was a destination I have wanted to visit since I was 3, when I use to live in Talatamaty in Madagascar. French was the language I had picked up first, as a result of living in Madagascar, although leaving all that behind and 17 years on I am now living in Australia, my love for France is still there.Now, 31 hours later, I arrive in Madrid. I spent a few days here before setting off for the summer program in Bordeaux. Europe lived up to my expectations so far, and the excitement only grew as I was travelling to Bordeaux from Madrid on the 29th of June.
The program was for a duration of 2 weeks, and consisted of daily lectures within the topics of ‘Sustainability within Civil Engineering’ which were eased into with an hour of French before it. Every day commenced at 9am, with an hour of French, a lecture, 1.5 hours of lunch break and then either another lecture or a site visit. Site visits were an amazing experience where the entire group got to experience the practical aspect of the lectures, some visits outside the engineering field were wine tours, these involved learning about the French vineyards and details about wine production.
Amongst the educational aspect of the program, the socialising opportunity was a great experience. I was the only student from Sydney, amongst 10 students from RMIT in Melbourne, few Chinese students and a few Korean students from Seoul. Making friends from different places around the world, yet connected by the same discipline of engineering was a unique experience. The usual day would finish at 5pm, after this the others along with myself gathered and went out to the city to soak up some French culture, either indulging in some French food or going to popular bars where we would meet others who are also travelling, or even appreciating the French architecture which was mind blowing as it was very different to what we are used to seeing in Sydney.
Some amazing work in the city I have captured are presented below.
The city of Bordeaux is a great place for students to study as the city is young, plenty of people out and about even until really late we still felt safe walking around the city. Sun set’s really late in Europe, so that was an experience in itself as we had plenty of day time to explore the city. This was weird at first as we’re use to such an early sunset back home!
Most of the city was covered with old French influenced architecture and it was maintained as such to be the centre of attraction in Bordeaux. However if you were to make a small effort to cross the Garonne river via the cities iconic ‘Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas’ bridge you come to discover this magnificent and alluring portrayal of the youth influence within the city. A location known as ‘Le Hangar Darwin’ where every wall boasts an eye catching piece of art through graffiti. The place is not filled with too many people at once however, you will come across a few locals who spend time with friends and of course the odd tourist like us who come to appreciate the contrasting nature of the city from the ‘left side’ to the ‘right side’ as the locals say.
A few of the works in ‘Le Hangar Darwin’ are shown below.
Overall, this short yet meaningful trip has taught me several things. It has shown me how to get through obstacles that you may face small or big, it has allowed me to gain confidence and step outside my comfort zone and do something out there. Most importantly, something I will keep with me for a lifetime; the new friendships and qualities which have been engraved into my personality from the duration of the trip. I strongly recommend this program for future students who seek something outside the normal university life and want to travel whilst adding value to their degree.