The university is situated in Caen, a city with a little over 100.000 inhabitants, which lies in the northern region Normandy in the department Calvados. Public transport is provided by bus or tram, so all parts of the city can easily be reached. Although relatively small, Caen has a lot to offer culturally with its medieval churches and abbeys, museums and its historical background being situated in the region where the landing of the allied forces took place in 1944.
Furthermore Caen is not far away from the sea, about 15 minutes by bus which made winter a very moderate one, rarely having temperatures below zero.
Around Caen you can find many charming little towns, many of them having abbeys and churches as well, for example Bayeux or Lisieux. But also it takes only two hours by train to go to Paris.
Université de Caen Normandie/IAE Caen
The university is spread over the city with 4 campuses. Campus 1 is the closest to the city center. On this campus you find also the biggest library of the university, the gym and most of the student dormitories. All campuses have canteens (restaurants universitaires) with special prices for students. The department where I was studying, Institut d’Administration et d’Entreprises (IAE) specialising in economics and management, is situated on campus 4, around 20 minutes by tram from the city center. It is a rather small building with 3 lecture halls and numerous classrooms and a cafeteria.
I decided to do an intensive language course at the university before starting the semester which I can definitely recommend. I could refresh my language skills and I could familiarize a little with the new environment. Because of the language course I already went to Caen in August. I arrived by train, since I had stayed in Stuttgart, Germany before from where it was quite convenient to take the train only having to change trains in Paris.
During the two weeks of my language course, I could already see my international coordinator in Caen and received my student card and a little welcome package with information about the introduction weeks. During the first two weeks the Carré International organized different activities, such as an excursion to Mont Saint Michel or different kinds of get-togethers which gave the opportunity to meet people.
The study system I experienced in Caen differed from the one in Lund in many terms, which may also be due to that I studied at a different faculty in Lund (Humanities and Theology). During my Master program in Lund each course counted 15 ECTS and I had two courses per semester. In Caen I had many different small courses. A lot of them went only for one or two days and lecturers, academics or professionals, changed regularly. Furthermore the schedule was much tighter in Caen, having lectures from Monday to Friday from 8:30 or 9:00 am until 4 pm or later. There was much lesser room for independent study, which again might also be due to the fact that I studied at a different faculty. I followed the complete study program of the Master 2 Marketing. I experienced the workload being extremely heavy. Initially I planned to stay a whole year. With the second semester consisting of doing an internship, writing a thesis on the side and having two exams in summer, I decided to shorten the study exchange to one semester and “only” doing an internship. Since all courses for the Master program are put in the first semester I followed the complete course program which is structured in 5 units.
Overall I thought that the subjects of the different courses were well chosen to give a good knowledge of Marketing. Unfortunately I felt that squeezing all courses into one semester and changing lecturers that often did not make the study profound enough. Very often I felt that we had to rush through the topics rather than carefully studying them.
I decided not to take a room in a dorm, but to look for a place to stay myself. There are some websites to look for a flat-share such as appartager.com or leboncoin.fr. In the end I found a one-room-apartment through the platform adele.org which offers studio apartments for students for several cities in France. I was very pleased with my residence, Kley Caen, which was just build one year before. But I have to mention that most of these residences are quite expensive and the application process was quite complicated (a guarantor is required and many documents are asked).
I very much enjoyed the many churches and abbeys that I mentioned before, not only in Caen, but also in other towns around Caen. I also took a trip to Ouistreham which is located by the sea and has a big beach – I’m sure it is also a nice destination to go swimming in summer. Something I would have loved to see where the “falaises d’Etretat” – which are a very famous part of Normandy, chalk cliffs just by the sea. Unfortunately it is very complicated to go there by bus, so a car is highly recommended. Besides that Caen offers many small cafés, bars and restaurants and the city center offers the common shops to go shopping.
The costs were how I expected them to be. In general costs in France are a bit lower than in Sweden, especially foods and restaurants or cafés and of course alcohol. My accommodation was more expensive than the one I had in Sweden, but it is nevertheless possible to find something which is comparable to accommodations in Sweden concerning the price.
Text: Tabea Friedel