Sopio Sharikadze, from Georgia, in the first year of a master's degree in political science at Université de Rennes 1

A student at the Free University of Tbilisi in Georgia, Sopio is currently doing the first year of a master's degree in political science at Université de Rennes 1. After arriving in Rennes in September 2016, she came to tell us about her first few months at the university...

Sopio Sharikadze illustration: Emma Burr

Why did you choose Université de Rennes 1?

I was looking for universities with a good reputation in political science and whilst searching on the internet, I discovered Université de Rennes 1. I visited the university website, read the course description, which corresponded to what I was looking for, and decided to apply. I sent my application to the registrar's office of the Faculty of Law and Political Science who answered very quickly! I applied for the grant funded by the French embassy and the Georgian government and my application was successful.

How have you found the course so far?

At first I had problems understanding the structure and study methods here, which are very different to my university in Georgia, for example regarding examinations and tutorials. Dissertation writing is very different too and even though I have the required level of French for the course, writing a dissertation in another language is problematic. So it has taken me a while to get used to the French system. My bachelor's degree is in international relations and so political science at master's level is a big change. The course content includes a lot of philosophy, which I've found quite challenging, partly due to the language. But my lecturers and fellow students have been very helpful, as well as the people in charge of international affairs at the faculty, who have always answered any questions I've had!

You are an individual student, as opposed to a student on an exchange programme, which means that you are in charge of the organising your accommodation, language courses, and so on, is that right?

As an individual student, that's generally the case but this programme, set up by the Georgian government and the French embassy, allows Georgian students to benefit from the same conditions as students receiving grants from the French government. For example, priority access to a room in halls of residence.

I don't attend French classes as I'm enrolled on my course in the same conditions as a French student. I learnt French at school but really improved my level during my three years as an undergraduate.

Is this your first stay in another country?

No. I went to Iran for one month on a language study trip to learn Persian.

What are your plans for the future Sopio?

I have a dream! (Laughing). I would like to become an ambassador. I'm not sure in which country yet! I want to work for, and improve conditions in my country. After my year in France, I'll either look for a job or try to do the second year of my master's degree here or in another country.

Université de Rennes 1 and Georgia: first steps in a new collaboration

Since 2016, Université de Rennes 1 has integrated the development of partnerships with higher education institutions in Georgia and Caucasus region into its strategy. An institutional delegation meeting was held in October 2016 in Tbilisi bringing together the university and its future partners. Université de Rennes 1 also submitted a project to the Erasmus+ France / Education & Training agency for student, lecturer-researcher and staff mobility.

A meeting took place in February with Professor Archil Elizabarachvili who manages the French-speaking computer science department of the Tbilisi State University (TSU).

Sopio Sharikadze is the first student to carry out mobility in the context of the partnership between Université de Rennes 1 and Georgian higher education institutions. The beginning of what promises to be a fruitful collaboration.