So if you didn't catch the last few posts, this series is about our trip to Paris way back in June 2016 when we went there for summer school! Both of us enrolled in a Luxury Management course at a college called HEC Paris. The course itself was 2 weeks long, but we booked our flight a week earlier so we could travel and explore the city.
In the last post, we just spent the day in the mall near La Vallée Village since we didn't get to explore much of it the last time we were there.
13 June 2016. Monday.
Anyway, our one week of vacation time unfortunately came to an end, and it was time for us to get moving to school!
We had to check out of our Airbnb and make our way to the city where there would a shuttle bus to take students to the campus, and it was a pretty early bus too, so we had to wake up especially early to make sure we caught it in time.
And surprise, surprise! We actually met some fellow Singaporeans while waiting for our bus! They were the couple we had the fortune of working with during our volunteaching experience in Ho Chi Minh City! And they coincidentally ended up in Paris in the exact same time and place as us! What a happy accident!
After a brief reunion, we hopped on the shuttle bus and were on our way to HEC Paris! It was quite a journey too, and we ended up napping the whole way there. There were quite a few students taking the same bus as well; probably all attending summer school too.
Here's a screenshot of how far the campus is from the main city:
Well, after about an hour's journey, we finally arrived on campus. The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to go to the hostel office and check in. So we did just that, with all the other international students.
It was quite a wait, and walking back and fro with our luggage wasn't fun at all. But eventually we made it to the hostel and settled into our rooms. The hostel building itself was only 4 floors, but there was no elevator! Luckily, my room was on the second floor but the room Sean got was on the fourth floor! So we decided to just share my room instead. Carrying our luggage up 2 floors was exhausting enough. 😫
The room itself was pretty simple; there was a desk, and side table, a single bed, and some shelves. The shower was quite peculiar though, because it was shared between 2 rooms. You could lock it on both sides, but there could potentially be another person in the shower, which was really weird, especially since the door was frosted glass.
Well, after we settled into our room we went exploring around campus, to get a sense of the other buildings.
I think HEC Paris was located next to a dairy farm or something, because I recall there was a distinct manure smell at some parts.
They gave us this welcome pack when we got registered and I brought it along thinking it was important stuff.
The campus was nice enough; it was definitely very different compared to our own college campus in Singapore (NUS). For one thing, the buildings were pretty short and spread out, which is something you'd never find in a small country like Singapore.
We walked around for a bit before making our way to the cafeteria to get lunch! We only had some hot chocolate and biscuits for breakfast so we were pretty hungry, especially after heaving around our luggage everywhere.
There were quite a lot of students there as well, probably from all over the world. We didn't really spot any other Singaporeans, though, but were sure there should've been others. They could've been attending the second session of summer school though (we were only attending the first session).
The cafeteria worked like those we'd seen in movies, with a set menu every day, and you'd go up to the lady and ask for servings. You had to pay with a card, kinda like IKEA. Anyway, there was some fried rice for lunch, so we ate some, since we didn't have rice for like a week.
After lunch, we headed to the main building for the orientation of sorts. There was a whole bunch of people; staff explaining all the different programs available, and students standing around trying to find their way to class.
So there was a general introduction session we were to attend in an auditorium first, where they introduced us to HEC Paris, and all sorts of stuff. I think I got bored and wasn't paying attention for most of it tbh.
Basically the Dean talked for a bit, and some student leaders talked for a bit as well. I think most of what they were marketing didn't really apply to us since we were only here on summer school, and they seemed to be appealing to students wanting to actually enroll here. Maybe there were people not on exchange here? 🤔
Anyway, after that long talk, we headed off to our respective classrooms for our first lesson, which was basically just the introduction to the course, going over the course outline and assignments, and getting assigned into groups.
So the course we enrolled in was called Luxury Management, and we practically had zero knowledge on Luxury brands and products, so it was pretty intimidating hearing all this foreign marketing stuff in the course outline. Not to mention all the other students attending the course were Master's students and we were the only undergrads there! 😓 I felt totally out of my element, and was pretty nervous, but thankfully my group mates were really nice. Sean and I were hoping we would get grouped together, but of course they would split us up. Oh well.
Anyway, for this 2 week course, we'd have 2x3 hour lessons every day, and we each had to write a 5 page paper (comparing Chanel and Hermès communication strategies and brand DNA), and give a group presentation. As part of the group project, we had to choose a luxury brand and visit the physical store of that brand as well (which means, excursion time!).
It sounded like a lot of work, and was pretty intimidating, but it just meant that I had to work even harder and made sure I could complete the assignments on time.
After getting to know our group mates and deciding on our luxury brand (my group chose Aston Martin), we left the class. Turns out we did find another Singaporean in our class! Coincidentally, he was also my group mate in NUS the previous semester! And since we were the only 3 Singaporeans there at the time, I guess we would get to know each other better over these 2 weeks. Especially since we were also neighbours in the hostel! His room was literally just beside mine, but thankfully not the one we were sharing a shower with. 😆
We had some down time before dinner, so we decided to head to the nearest grocery store for some snacks and drinks for our room. The store was quite a walk away, but we didn't have much choice. They did have this drink with my mother's name though (granted, her name isn't Tea, but it sounds just like it)!
After chilling in our room for a bit, we headed to the cafeteria for dinner, where we had a fish fillet with some very plain pasta and beans.
We were kinda tired after that, so we just chilled in our room until it was time for bed. I might've done some reading in preparation for class tomorrow, but I probably dozed off.
Anyway, I was actually gonna combine this first day with the next, but seeing how long this post is, I think I'll hold off on that. Tune in next week where I bring you on my group's excursion in the city!
Thanks so much for reading!