Two of the world’s leading institutions for the humanities and social sciences – the University of Sydney and Sciences Po in France – have come together to offer students a dual degree program, one of a kind in Australia.
After completing the first two years of study in France, students relocate to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney to continue their third and fourth year of studies in either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Economics.
We caught up Bachelor of Arts dual degree student Evangeline Larsen who recently returned from two years in France and a semester exchange in Lebanon to hear about her experience while studying at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
I chose the dual degree because it aligned with my desire for a globally minded education and my passion for a variety of social sciences. The program has given me the opportunity to study in three countries, be versed in a broad sweep of humanities and also specialise at the undergraduate level in Middle Eastern studies. Both Sciences Po and the University of Sydney offer totally different experiences, friends and subjects and I knew this would satisfy the part of me that loves a challenge and can never decide on just one thing to focus on!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my semester studying at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. I think it is important to take any opportunity to live and travel in the regions relevant to your study. Consequently, as a Middle Eastern politics student it has been fascinating to learn more about Lebanon’s history and current situation both inside and outside of the classroom. The university offers really interesting classes and I have been able to take subjects such as Islamic architecture, Palestinian film and Lebanese politics. I have also made amazing friends, travelled through much of this beautiful country and had the honour of witnessing the October Revolution take place.
My day-to-day life on exchange is much like any student in any country. My classes are in the afternoon, so I either study at home or at the beautiful AUB campus in the morning. Often, I’ll stop at my favourite hole in the wall falafel spot for lunch on my way to uni! In the evenings I spend time with my housemates and friends, and we enjoy some of the many fun spots to eat and drink around the city. Of course, the food is incredible in Lebanon so we’re always finding new things to try. On my days off I love to walk around different Beirut suburbs such as going to the markets in Shatila for delicious sweets or walking along the Corniche at sunset. During the weekends, my friends and I plan day trips outside of Beirut because even though Lebanon is a tiny country there are so many amazing places to see!
My exchange has undoubtedly taught me a lot both in terms of my studies and also personal growth. For me, the most powerful lessons have come during the revolution, as it forced me to reckon with the theories and ideas we discuss so often as politics students in real time and with real consequences. Lebanon is infinitely complex and being here leaves me with more questions than answers. As a result, this exchange has taught me to sit with the uncomfortableness that those questions bring and pushed me to keep learning more.
The dual degree is a challenge – to live abroad, to adapt to new systems, to learn new languages, to study with some of the brightest young people and to take difficult subjects are all really hard things to do. But…it is also what makes this degree program so exciting and so worthwhile! You will have the chance to learn from experts in the field, travel the world, learn broadly and also deeply, grow as a person and form special friendships that will last a lifetime. I cannot recommend it enough if you are itching for an adventure and a degree that will actually, clichés aside, change your life.
The dual degree is not a singular experience. It’s two degrees in different countries with different specialisations, it’s a multitude of internship and work opportunities, it’s research projects and club involvement. These all combine to set you up for life after graduation, having gained skills in intercultural communication, adaptability, resilience, teamwork and leadership, along with the knowledge from your subjects. Within the space of four years I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone more often than many people experience in a lifetime and I have loved it…it makes everything else to come feel like a breeze!
Find out more about the Bachelor of Arts (Dual Degree, Sciences Po, France) and the Bachelor of Economics (Dual Degree, Sciences Po, France).