As part of the 2017/18 European and International Law Master course, 30 Chinese China-EU School of Law (CESL) students travelled to the University of Strasbourg in France for a four-week elective course. On 6th May we arrived in Strasbourg and successfully registered at the university with the help of Mr. Ye Hongtao, who is himself studying at the University of Strasbourg. Hongtao enthusiastically welcomed us and told us a bit about the law school and university life which helped us settle in to life in Strasbourg more easily.
Strasbourg is the largest city of the Grand East region of France close to the German border from where a train to Kehl in Germany is easily accessible. Strasbourg is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union. Founded in 1538, the University of Strasbourg is one of the top 100 universities in the world. With more than 480 years of history the university poses to be a pioneer of modern higher education in France. The University of Strasbourg is a multidisciplinary university renowned for its developments in fields such as law, politics, journalism, and foreign languages. Zhu Guangqian, a famous educationist, is one notable alumni and the university boasts more than 20 Nobel laureates. Germany and France have at different points in history ruled Strasbourg leaving the city with characteristics reminiscent of both. Strasbourg marks the meetings point of two very different cultures.
I. Studying in Strasbourg
During our time at the University of Strasbourg we’ll be studying Consumer Protection Law. The course is divided into three week-long parts taught by lecturers from France, Hungary and Spain. In the first week we will study Consumer Protection Law, taught by Professor Nicolas Nord from the University of Strasbourg. In the second week Prof. Istvan Erdos, from Hungary, will introduce us to consumer dispute settlement mechanisms in EU. Finally, Prof. Gemma Minero, who gave the lecture on intellectual property law in Beijing, will combine consumer protection with the protection of intellectual property rights to enhance our understanding of consumer protection. Professor Nicolas Nord is also the coordinator of the French elective courses. He welcomed us upon arrival, introduced us to the university and showed us around the campus. The students marveled at the beautiful surroundings.
Several international organizations are located in Strasbourg, including the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Court of Human Rights, all of which we visited in our second week with Mr. Ye Hongtao . Each building had its own feel. The video introduction and the staff's comprehensive explanation helped students to fully understand the history, functions and structures of the various institutions. It is very interesting to experience in reality what we have studied in textbooks. We appreciate the necessity of the various institutions and left with a deeper understanding of the operation of European Union. We also made sure to take group photos to mark the event.
II. Living in Strasbourg
It takes about 10 minutes to walk to school so the dormitories are not far from the school. The dorm rooms are double rooms kept clean and tidy and pillows, quilts, two tables and chairs for eating and studying are provided. The room has basic kitchen equipment including a small milk pan, an all-purpose pan and tableware. There is a refrigerator too so you can buy ingredients to cook for your own meals. It should be noted that it is necessary to bring a conversion plug - at the time of purchase one should confirm it is the correct one- and to purchase high quality products to ensure safety. There are supermarkets (Auchan, Carrefour) on the route to the school. The items in the supermarket are sufficient and shopping is very convenient. Go to the supermarket after school or on holidays (French supermarkets don't open on weekends.) Auchan supermarkets will have meat promotions on Fridays so it's worthwhile to pick up some ingredients for the following week. Supermarket shopping is also a great way to experience local life and taste the local cuisine. In addition, there is also the Paris Shi Duo (China supermarket) which can be reached in ten minutes by the light rail from the school gate and domestic spices and noodles can be bought here. One stop away from Paris is the centre of the city. It is a shopping paradise. There is a wide range of goods and you can feel the prosperity of the city.
Mr. Hongtao applied for the canteen meal card for us. However the price of each meal in the canteen is about €8/9 therefore most of the students chose to cook themselves. Cooking usually takes a long time so life in Strasbourg mostly comprises of learning and cooking.
Besides cooking your own meals you can also enjoy the local specialties. Due to Strasbourg’s location along the French and German border, we got to try German and French food. In Strasbourg, you can eat authentic German elbow and sausage and at the same time enjoy an elegant French view by the window.
As Strasbourg is a border city between France and Germany, you can easily travel to other European countries. We plan to travel to Colmar, Heidelberg, Zurich, Lucerne, Madrid and Barcelona.
Here we marveled at the leisurely pace of life, the diverse architectural styles and the fresh urban atmosphere of the city. Little France, Orange Garden and Notre Dame Cathedral are not to be missed! Getting around the city is mainly done by tram. The teachers will show you how to buy tickets (visa card is often used).
You can be in Colmar by train within half an hour. Hayao Miyazaki's "Hall's Moving Castle" is in Colmar. If you go, you will want to stay there forever. There are beautiful flowers, cottages and water features here. What’s more, the white wine from this region is very famous which is lovely to drink down by the river.
You can take a two hour bus to get to Heidelberg. It’s an ideal place for a short weekend. Heidelberg is famous for its great-tasting elbows and beer. The Heidelberg Castle is a must-see tourist attraction too. If you travel with your invitation letter from the University of Strasbourg you can buy student tickets. If you have more time, you can go to the pedestrianized street below Castle Hill where there’s plenty of good places for shopping.
Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world. Walking down the street or enjoying the beautiful scenery of lakes and mountains in the Alps, you will acquire an understanding of how happiness may indeed be bought with money. Lucerne is the preferred tourist city. At the peak of the Rigi Mountain, you can see the beautiful scenes of Lake Lucerne and the snowy mountains. When you get to the Jungfrau, you get to experience the Alps in close quarters. Lion Monument is hailed by Mark Twain as the saddest stone in the world. Zurich is also the financial Centre of Switzerland. Bahnhofstrasse is the longest shopping street in Europe and there are many shops selling luxury goods. The second-hand bazaar is a good place for bargaining. In Switzerland tickets are expensive, so buying a Swiss pass in advance is a good choice.
Writers: Zhao Maoqian, Li Dongyue, Yang Ting, Mo Jiefeng, Zhang Wenjin, Cheng Xudan
Translators: Guo Baoyin, Zhang Changrui, Xu Na, Meng Xiaoxi, Wu Congwen.