Hello, Michelle here! It’s been two very exciting weeks since I’ve arrived in HEC Paris! The ‘Paris’ in the school’s name is a little misleading – we’re actually located near a very small and very quiet town called Jouy-en-Josas, about 16km from central Paris. I feel like I’ve more or less settled down quite well here so far, so here are a few quick tips for settling down if you’re thinking of heading to Paris for exchange in the future
1) FOOD & WATER.
The school canteen food is actually pretty great, in my opinion. At 3-5 euros, it’s much cheaper than eating outside, which would set you back by at least 12 euros per meal. It’s buffet style, so you pay for what you take! There’s salad, mousse, baguettes, desserts, etc, so you can try different things every day. We pay using our student card, which can be loaded with money at the canteen. Sadly it only opens for about 1-2h at a time during lunch and dinner so if you miss it, you’ll have to find your own food. Thankfully, there’s a Simply supermarket just across the road from the campus, so it’s not hard to get groceries to cook for yourself!
Grocery shopping is super fun. Everything looks really fresh and nice here, and it’s quite fun going down the aisles just to look at what the French like to eat, and how different everything is here. They’re quite environmentally friendly here, so you should bring your own shopping bag to carry your purchases back.
The tap water is cloudy due to the presence of minerals so not everyone would be used to it. Consider bringing a travel kettle to boil the water, using a water filter, or just buying water from the supermarket if you’re worried.
Most students on exchange to HEC Paris will be living on campus, be it in individual rooms or with a roommate, so I’ll start from here. The campus itself is pretty small and concentrated, to walking to the entrance should only take about 5-10min. Here you can take the GHP shuttle bus which will take you to the nearest train station, Gare du Jouy-en-Josas, for 2 euros, in about 15min. You should check the timings of the shuttle bus to avoid waiting too long.
At the train station, you can purchase a ticket (billet) from the ticket counter on weekdays for your destination. The nearest city is Versailles, and the station, Gare du Versailles-Chantiers, is only two stops away by RER C! A ride there will cost you 1.90 euros. Taking the train in the opposite direction will take you on a long journey to the city centre, and this could take about 45min to an hour, not including waiting time.
NOTE: You should give a lot of time because the wait can be frustratingly long, and train delays, disruptions, and strikes can happen anytime! Also, try to avoid taking the taxi – it’s expensive.
An alternative is to get the Navigo pass, which can also be purchased at the ticket counter (open on weekdays and Saturday mornings). It’s really great cause it’s basically an unlimited travel pass for trains and buses, so you just need to tap to get in. A weekly pass starting from Monday (cannot change day) will cost 22 euros, plus 5 euros for the pass the first time you get it. There’s also a monthly pass, but I’ve yet to try it out. This is a great option if you intend to travel a lot during the week, as transportation costs can add up to quite a lot in France!
NOTE: You’ll need to add a passport photo to the pass, so that might be an additional cost if you don’t have extras.
That’s all for now! I’m excited for what’s to come (: À bientôt!
ExchangeBuddy is a student-led platform that encourages students on exchange to share their experiences and handy tips. Do drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are keen on contributing to our site! You can also like/follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more regular updates!