Testimonies from Nicolas Baudin grant awardees
University of Queensland, exchange to Sciences Po as part of her Bachelor of Arts (majoring in French)/ Laws degree
As for my experience in France, it was fantastic! It was invaluable to immerse myself in French language and culture for a semester. I found the university experience in France to be quite different from my experience in Australia, but the French method — particularly at such a prestigious institution as Sciences Po — was very enriching as it allowed me to focus on different areas of academic development, something which is very important to me as someone who wishes to complete postgraduate studies in French.
Life in Paris was one of a kind — I am extremely lucky to have had the chance to live in one of the most vibrant and culturally & historically important cities in the world. This experience, both linguistically and in terms of cultural enrichment and experience, was incredibly beneficial to me in building my own ties with France as the foundation of what I hope will be a continuing academic and professional relationship. My immense thanks again to the Embassy for this very valuable assistance in allowing me to have this experience — it was undoubtedly the highlight of my studies.
Master in civil and hydraulic engineering in Grenoble
Studying a master’s degree in civil and hydraulic engineering, surrounded by the French Alps living in Grenoble; it’s possible and the course offered by the reputed Grenoble INP-ENSE3 (Grenoble National Institute of Technology).
Whilst the essence of engineering theory remains coherent between France and Australia, the methodology and approach to engineering problems does have a varying perspective and this course gave me an excellent insight. On top of that Grenoble has about every kind of natural obstacle a civil engineer must consider: mountains and rivers, fire and ice or even earthquakes to name a few!
Life as a student in Grenoble appears to be tailor made for aficionados of the many great things that France has to offer. There is an incredible cultural diversity with students from all corners of France and the globe making the most of the city’s enthusiasm for innovation and education. Something like 60 000 students live here each year and join together with the tech companies and research organisations to make an accessible and relaxed environment where meeting new and open people working on really interesting projects is the norm.
Yet the major enjoyment for me remains the French, France and French things. Indeed, the scenery is as diverse as the characters that span l’Hexagon (as it’s known in the vernacular). Where else could one enter a corner bakery, butcher or cheese shop and address everyone in the room waiting: “Good day ladies and gentlemen!” and have the greeting returned by strangers with a smile? Ah yes, not only are the birds are singing and the flowers blooming, you now have all you need to picnic amongst the green hills and snow capped mountains! I too was a little weary when the fundamentals of one’s day involve discussing in detail the meals to come or going through play-by-play the past weekend’s diner. I too was a little weary of the endless mass of bakeries on every corner in every direction (why so many?). I too thought there couldn’t be a need for so many kinds of yogurt or cheese! Yet I rapidly converted to the simple pleasures of making the essential (eating) a good time and finding exactly what I needed to make it work according to my cravings (not every baguette is the same nor every cheese).
And if the true clichés aren’t really your motivation, well there were more than enough activities that break the mould. The French love sport and the outdoors as much as any ocker and Grenoble is an epicentre! The Alps aren’t just a source of cheese and yodelling; they’re at the doorstep, visible from most windows and provide 500km of groomed skiable terrain within 50km of the city. Then there are walking trails in the wilderness and bike paths in the valleys that lead across the continent! Catching a train, hitching a ride or hopping on a bus; in no time (for an Australian) it’s the beach under the Mediterranean sun with cicadas humming in the background.
Currently, I’m still in France doing my masters project in hydraulic modelling in an engineering firm after completing the academic component of the course. Thanks to the opportunity I’ve had to undertake the study, my eyes have been opened and career horizons broadened beyond in Australia and beyond!
University of Bordeaux, studying Mechanisms of angiogenesis and tumor cell invasion in brain tumors
At the time I heard about the “Internship in France Initiative” I was in my last semester of an Arts and Science degree, studying French and biomolecular science, wondering what my next step would be before applying to a Master of Science in Europe. Upon finding the intern position offered by Professor Andreas Bikfalvi, I was sure this opportunity would tie my two degrees together nicely, whilst preparing me to undertake my Masters with a clearer ambition of my research interests.
I was eager to build upon the practical experience I obtained from my undergraduate classes and transition into a fast paced lab environment. One advantage of this internship is the opportunity to actively improve my level of French on a daily basis, thanks to my daily interactions with team members and ordinary citizens. Immersion into a language is invaluable experience when hoping to one day achieve fluency. Since arriving, all department members have been nothing but kind and helpful should I have any issues, encouraging me to ask questions to increase my own understanding. My supervisor briefed me on my project which seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the brain tumour microenvironment, whilst looking into new potential therapeutic targets. From this experience I have been able to incorporate skills I learnt in the classroom and put them into practice with real world application, as well as many new techniques not taught at the bachelor level in Australia. This has allowed me to diversify and gain entry into the field of medical molecular biology- a career domain I will pursue. Due to the many branches and demands of my project, I am sure to make every day, and every experiment, count. I hope my contribution brings us closer to finding the crucial knowledge we seek, to improve the lives of those suffering.
My advice to other students looking for research experience is to not be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things.
University of Melbourne, research internship at CNRS LSCE (UVSQ, CEA - Paris-Saclay University) in Gif-sur-Yvette studying paleoclimatology as part of her Bachelor of Science
My trip to France was to conduct research into past climate change. I conducted experiments at the Laboratory of climate sciences and environment. The grant gave me the opportunity to use the specialised experimental set-up in the lab and to meet and learn from world class academics working in the area of past climate reconstruction.
My trip was incredibly beneficial for the sake of my research, allowing me to conduct experiments that were vital to my honours thesis, which improved our understanding of a past temperature proxy in a particular cave deposit from Italy. Studying in France also made my experience of honours so much more eye-opening. By working in the lab. and going to lunch every day with my research group, I was able to get a better understanding of the world of academia and the amazing collaborations that happen on a global scale.
Life in France was interesting, it was my first time in Europe and for the first week or so, I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. I loved exploring Paris, even when I got lost down the streets that all somehow manage to look the same whilst also being uniquely beautiful. I enjoyed the food, picking up a croissant for breakfast on the way to the lab each day and often finishing the day by picking up a baguette and eating the top off immediately as I walked home. Bread back home just can’t compare! It was interesting noticing the differences to back home, one that I greatly appreciated was the abundance of public holidays, as well as the cheap lunches that are required to be supplied at every workplace. I had so many delicious 1 euro chocolate tarts, cakes and pastries through this scheme! I definitely could get used to the French lifestyle! I was lucky enough to get to live with a woman who rented a room out on Airbnb, so I had the chance to meet a variety of different French people, all of whom were incredibly kind and interesting to talk to. Overall, the experience was hugely beneficial to me, as my first foray into the world of research and my first time living in a foreign country and travelling mostly on my own. It was a huge learning experience and a time I will always look back on with fond memories. I think the highlight of my time in France was midsummer music night in Paris, the city was so alive and buzzing with such a variety of people out playing music, dancing and generally celebrating life.
University of Melbourne, research internship at the University of Bordeaux on the topic of "Combinatorics of planar Eulerian orientations"
My internship in France is going very well. I am writing from CIRM - a conference venue in the beautiful Parc national des Calanques, which overlooks the Mediterranean sea. At this conference I gave a presentation about my research here, which was very well received. Otherwise I have been working in Bordeaux, with Mireille Bousquet Melou. This has been very productive - we have already solved the main problem which we planned to work on and we have almost finished writing a paper about it. Our paper will be online in about a week. Next, we will work on a paper about generalisations.
Life in France is very nice. I joined the local table tennis club soon after I arrived in Bordeaux, and the people there are very friendly. Generally my French is still very weak, but at least my table tennis French is improving. I very much like living in Bordeaux. It has such nice scenery that the whole inner city is heritage listed. I have found that France’s reputation for having good food is well deserved -It would be difficult to find a bad restaurant here.
So far during this internship I have met researchers from all over France who I hope to work with more in the future. In particular, I will return here for a postdoc when I finish my PhD.
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, for a six-month internship on the topic of tumor metabolism in pediatric liver cancer. (Thanks to Université de Bordeaux)
The Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France” represented an incredible opportunity that would contribute to my master’s degree whilst also giving me invaluable laboratory experience. I could not be happier with the experience – from an academic and a personal perspective. Bordeaux, as well as the surrounding region is beautiful; the city is of human-size and the trams remind me of my home city, Melbourne!
I participated in this initiative as it responded to a long-held dream of mine to study overseas.
Academically I have learned the ins and outs of what it takes to undertake scientific research; the planning involved, the research required and the techniques used to make discoveries.
Personally, having jumped straight into the deep end of life in Bordeaux, I feel like I now have a pretty good grasp on the European and French way of life. I master the baguettes, the endless varieties of wine and also appreciate the general positive outlook of the locals. I must confess my language skills have yet to flourish, but perhaps when they do I will be able to consider myself an honorary Frenchman!
All in all, I have loved my time here and recommend it to anybody considering the program!
University of Sydney / Université de Nice for a six-month internship with Thales Underwater Systems
I would certainly recommend other students from Australia participate in the Nicolas Baudin internship in France initiative. It is a great opportunity to live and work in France, and was very rewarding. It offered a much richer experience than simply travelling there.
I decided to apply for the Nicolas Baudin internship in France initiative when my supervisor sent me a proposal about various internships in France, and the one about machine learning for underwater data really intrigued me. I didn’t really know what to expect from the program, but knew I would enjoy living in France, and the program lived up to these expectations!
My research topic during the internship was “Classifying underwater sonar data”. The internship offered an opportunity to learn some new skills, and experience a new culture. At the same time, the university environment is quite similar to Australia, and I made some great friends at the laboratory there.
Though I didn’t speak much French before going there, I rarely found the lack of speaking French a problem. I had done a brief period of French in high school but that was it. Nice was a very international city, and my friends there also spoke English very well.
To any students willing to participate in the program, I’d recommend making the use of weekends to travel to places within Europe, as it’s very easy to travel around! It is quite easy to get a train, plane or bus and get away for the weekend, and I went on some great trips during my time there, including some fun trips to Italy, and I also went skiing in the Alps near Nice.