Toulouse Business School
Name: Maria Sølvsteen
Study programme at CBS: BSc In International Business
Exchange School: Toulouse Business School
What is it like at Toulouse Business School?
TBS is a very proud school, which really goes hand in hand with France being a proud country. You can tell they really make an effort to hire qualified professors who are actually educated in the art of teaching, which, supposedly, is a rare thing to come by at most universities. Administration however, is far from as efficient as you might have hoped, e.g., lunch break takes up two hours of a working day (also very French!). For some reason TBS offers only Master studies, which has increased the level of intensity a bit for me being used to studying at bachelor level. Fortunately, the required readings are a minimum and in general, there is a much more practical approach than at CBS. Campus is pretty great too, with a beautiful park in the backyard, nice facilities, and the sun shinning brightly until mid November!
Was it easy to make friends?
I made my friends during a two-week French language course I took in the beginning of the semester before school had properly begun. With all of us being new to the city and learning to adjust, we were all in the same boat – so finding common subjects to talk about was easy! After that, we were divided up in four sections and there is a lot of group work within those segments so you naturally become friends with a lot of the people you spend so much time with. The diversity here is pretty astonishing and I have met some funny, crazy, and amazing people!
Do you like living in France?
I love living in France! I love the weather, the detailed architecture, the shopping, the historical sights, the food and drinks, and I am in love with all the hidden gems I keep discovering every single day.
Have you had any difficulties with the language?
I do my best to always speak French, when I am out of an academic context but yes, I have had some difficulties. For instance, I think a lot of Northern Europeans find it natural that people in public institutions speak English, like in a bank. In France they don’t. Actually, it is more likely that they can accommodate you in Spanish than in English, which does pose some difficulties. I have had to act out my requests a couple of times, but I find that the effort to speak a little French, even in situations where your comfort-zone vocabulary doesn’t apply, will be valued tremendously and it will encourage the French to do the same in English.
What is accommodation like?
I struggled a bit with accommodation mainly because of a misunderstanding, but the international student office here at TBS was more than helpful to me. They were resilient in helping me out, and they found me a great apartment in a residence that is practically on campus. The rent in Toulouse is rather high, so high that I could probably switch my 25m2 apartment here for a three-floor house at the seaside in Cancun, but the location here is priceless!
What electives are you taking and do you like them?
As mentioned, I took a French language course – other than that, I am taking Corporate Social Responsibility, Strategy Analysis, Financial Analysis, Human Resource Management, International Trade, Operations Management, Business & Marketing, Managerial Economics, and Management Control. The Financial Analysis course is built solely around a course that all the French students took while studying their bachelor, so that leaves me working extra hard on a course that isn’t really catching my attention, but other than that I like all the courses.
What are the biggest differences between CBS and Toulouse?
Academically speaking, it is probably the level of interaction here at TBS. More than often we are divided into small classes of 40 people, which creates a classroom atmosphere and great interaction between the professor and the students. Since there are minimum required readings and barely any books to purchase, attendance is important at TBS. Socially, it’s the fact that the French students party fiercely on Mondays and take it easy on Thursdays, which we all know is a big difference from CBS’s Nexus parties.
What have been your coolest experiences so far?
The coolest thing about my exchange here has been the realization that Toulouse is such an underrated city. All French cities stand in the shadows of the glorified Paris, but Toulouse is mesmerizing in a more aesthetic way, at least in my opinion. It’s cleaner, beautiful and then there is this indescribable sense of calmness. I have enjoyed going on road trips to nearby small cities, strolling through every tiny street at the Capitole, and constantly being in awe of the architecture that portrays such history, but the thing that first popped in to my head was the sundown at canal du midi – there are simply no words.
Why should other exchange students go to France for exchange?
If you haven’t seen the world’s big cities and you are yearning to explore at a fast pace, then I think that is what you should do. If you, like I, have seen a lot of big cities already, I think it’s refreshing to dive into a smaller city that truly has some hidden treasures. It’s not ‘la ville rouge’ for nothing.