Consortium d’Etablissements Français d’Enseignement Supérieur et de Recherche pour le développement de l’USTH

My life in France

First impressions

The AirFrance plane landed in the pink city Toulouse where I would study PhD in 3 years on a rainy, gloomy and cold day of November. A comparison of a wine put in fridge to chill and myself in the temperate weather here was quite appropriate. Vietnam – my beloved country I had left just several hours – was much warmer, anyway I was excited to experience new things, and the weather difference was the first one. French accent likened a music melody from low to high tone. People that I met at office and laboratory were almost easy-going, open-minded and … talkative (like me), although it would be very difficult for me to join because I knew slightly French that didn’t help much when I had queues of French colleagues in my working team. A French laboratory differs from Vietnamese labs like a private car and a crowded bus. I had a large working space and a large screen PC as well as the accessories and equipments for my scientific experiences. I am not sure that is the case for all of the labs in Toulouse because mine is one of the most famous one in Biology.

Learning French

When you live in France, you would improve your French.  I found that I progressed through the year. I didn’t realize just how good I was until I passed the C2 level at Summer School tuition of FLE (Française Langue Etrangère). Soon I could discuss with friends on social and culture subjects. If you couldn’t find the words, just ask to be explained. Yet I had sometimes misunderstood that were quite funny. The style of speaking of the young here was far away different Vietnamese. They could argue frankly, loudly and oppositely that made me surprised at first. At office, we often discussed about accustomed people, science, society, politics, economics, etc. What I preferred the most is cultural feature.

A day in my life in France

In general, my working time started from 8:30am and finished at 7pm, sometimes were longer because of practical experiences.  The weekend is optional, you can forget your working or you can go to lab if your reports haven’t been finished yet for next week meeting with your supervisor that is often on Monday. The way of study depends on students, personally I had to try choosing the highly-effective work on my own like reading, asking mentors, analysis and synthesis all of knowledge. Libraries are opened during weekday, moreover if you are a bookworm you can go to Mediatech in the downtown. Besides, food is important, of course, that I found difficult to get used to. Anyway, there are some Asian supermarkets I could get various ingredients for my natal gastronomy.

USTH consortium

The Toulouse-located organization was found since 2010 for USTH PhD students. They have organized annual USTH workshops. Two first years it was in Toulouse and the third one in Lyon. During seminars, the lectures about various subjects, mostly the science, were presented by invited speakers who always spoken in French and slides in English. Raising the hand and face to face asking out questions were really interesting for me. Furthermore, USTH students had a chance to visit the famous laboratories like Airbus – a leading aircraft manufacturer located in Toulouse or Pasteur Sanofi – the vaccines division of Sanofi-aventis Group - in Lyon. We also visited city and took part in social activities like Défile Bienale de danse Lyon 2012. The USTH consortium has also financed USTH PhDs for French or English language courses. They surely play an important role of USTH students’ supporting in France.

Tran Thi Ly, USTH PhD student