We asked our outgoing SU President, Kameni Chaddha, to reflect on her time at ULIP.
My name is Kameni and this summer, I will be graduating after spending a lovely three years at ULIP. Although my time at ULIP is coming to an end, I wanted to reflect on things that I engaged in as well as memories that I made.
I had actually come to ULIP through clearing and in hindsight, I understand why my parents were so worried about me moving abroad at 18 and starting my own life. Especially when I had originally applied to universities all within a two-hour train journey home. However, I can confidently say that ULIP has been some of my best times, and I’ve achieved and learnt more than I could’ve ever imagined at University.
So here are a few things that touch on my time at ULIP
Finding my feet: My mother was a housewife and I had never had to wash my own clothes, cook food for myself or do any house chores. So for me, first year was learning not only how to get around Paris, but also how to be an adult. I had two German flat mates which was really lovely in my first year, they really helped me to settle in and get to know people outside of University.
Studying: This was probably the year that I learnt the most about myself academically. I have to say, this is an ongoing journey, however (very honestly) I struggled with work the most in 2nd year. I really learnt my strengths and weaknesses, but not only that, for me it was about learning how to learn.
Travelling: In my second year of University I travelled so much with money that I had saved from working as a nanny in Paris (I really recommend that every ULIP student does this when they have time or a spare weekend). Being in Paris makes travelling so convenient, I went to so many places including Ile-de-Ré, Lyon, Marseille, Switzerland, Italy, Norway and the list goes on.
Confidence: I have definitely learnt the most about myself in third year, and I have to say that it is mainly my confidence that has grown and flourished. I can confidently speak to a big group of people which is something that I struggled with before, but I am also so much more confident in my own opinions and decisions. As ULIP is such a tight knit community, it is so easy for students to get involved and take on leadership positions, something which has been very beneficial for me.
Other things over the past three years that I’ve learnt include:
- Skiing (thank you ULIP Ski Society)!
- Don’t forget your coat because you’ll have to go and get it from your 7th floor flat with no lift
- Living in 9m2 makes you appreciate all large spaces
- You will be taken care of when you’re sick… I’ve had whooping cough twice
- Staying calm when you miss your flight (that’s when I knew I’d reached adulthood)
Looking back at my time at ULIP, I don’t think I could imagine myself having had such an amazing experience at any other university.
So, although I have written a very clichéd piece about metaphorically growing and who I’ve become during my time at ULIP, I decided to speak to a few friends (in true ULIP radio style) asking them their tops and flops from their previous three years – Because, of course, no university experience is perfect.
Catherine: “My top was studying subjects that I hadn’t studied before which gave me the building blocks to continue my studies and academic interests after ULIP. ULIP was also really good for making friends. Everyone says that at University you’ll make friends for life, I didn’t believe that at first, but it is actually true! My overall flop has to be the vicious cycle of French bureaucracy, having to have a bank account to get an apartment, but having to have an apartment to get a bank account.”
Jack: “Leaving Paris on a bike is my flop” (shameless plug but please check out the ULIP Tower to Tower bike ride Facebook page) and he told me that his ULIP top is the “amazing Parisian culture and lifestyle”
Kyra: “I guess my main flop would be dealing with homesickness from time to time, it can be pretty hard being away from your family and friends (I also have a friend who has a young daughter so it’s hard not always being able to be a part of her life). My top would be how independent and confident you become. I was thinking earlier about how I have no fear about going into a bank and speaking French or just doing new things in general, whereas a few years ago I would have been a lot more timid and unsure of myself”
Overall, ULIP has been a blessing.
For me, I’ll be off to Geneva very soon to start a Master’s program in International Affairs, an opportunity I am certain that I wouldn’t have had without ULIP.