Marco Kruger at ESSEC Business School, France

Marco Kruger

BCom International Business

Semester Exchange in the Second Semester, 2022 at ESSEC Business School




Preparing to study in France was quite a stressful time for me. First one has to go through Campus France to get a certificate confirming that you will study in France (EEF certificate) which is amended to the visa application. Then you have the visa application itself which is stressful because by the time you get to this step, it will be very close to your departure date. So, my biggest advice would be to read up on the whole process very early and have a visa appointment scheduled at least four weeks before your estimated departure date, even if you haven’t started the process yet!

As a general rule, many administrative processes will from there onward be done in French. Don’t use travel agents for your airplane tickets rather go to the airline’s site to get the best prices, but I would suggest doing it on a private browser so that they don’t use your cookies to manipulate prices. I would also suggest getting a global account at whichever bank you currently bank with, so that you don’t pay huge transaction fees when spending abroad. Even if you plan on opening a French Bank Account (it will take a while before you can use it) I would also recommend getting an eSIM before you get to Europe, which allows you data plans all across Europe and can be really affordable. This will keep you in touch with the world, but also allow you enough time to make the right decision regarding a more permanent prepaid SIM and provider.

Don’t pack too many summer clothes if you are doing a fall semester abroad, trust me you will not wear all of it. When winter comes you end up wearing one or two coats every day (which you might as well buy that side too as a souvenir) and a scarf, thermals and gloves (trust me on the gloves). Finally, registering for modules is a massive headache. ESSEC only provides a limited number of seats for all their elective courses, which you will have to choose from. So, before going to France they have two registration rounds where it is first-come-first-serve for getting a seat for a module you want to take. Be ready to put in all your module codes at once or else you’ll have to compromise like most of us ended up having to do.


Marco on the Seine


Coming back to Stellenbosch, I was extremely excited to see all my friends and peers again. Since most graduated and luckily many got in for honors, the fact that IB is four years and not three, really gets to you. But I think that having done the exchange in third year and not deferring it to fourth year gave me a lot of clarity on what I want to do after graduating. Having chosen the very specialized modules relating to sustainability and CSR, I discovered a passion to workout strategies of becoming more sustainable, circular and responsible. Thus, I have decided to go back to France for a Masters in either of those fields. And having found out about some bursaries on offer from the French Embassy I have become all the more intrigued.
On a more cultural level, coming back to Stellenbosch has also shown me how the university life and all its doings create a type of bubble that most students are trapped in. They get so focused on minor residence leadership or faculty leadership and activities, etc. that they miss out on some international opportunities that I was able to see more clearly while abroad. It also feels like students have less of an actual awareness of what the labour market will require of them and many think that simply their degree will be enough. But as a student of business that has been abroad, I have realized that we can in no way compete with international students at universities abroad, because most have at least four months of experience when they finish their undergrad studies, while we have none. But all in all, I still think that Stellenbosch University is the best university in South Africa and that its beauty can’t even be outweighed by European landscapes. And so, coming back has made me expectant and excited to make the best of my final year.