One Semester, Countless Memories: Unveiling the Erasmus Experience at HEC Paris

Hi everyone! My name is Dane Ketuko and I am a senior international student at Koç University with majors in Business Administration and Psychology. Even though I was born in Russia, and coming to Koç was already an “abroad” experience for me, I didn’t want to limit my horizons and decided to apply for the Erasmus exchange program in the Fall of 2022 at the best business school in Europe – HEC Paris, ranked #1 by Financial Times, QS and The Economist. The school had just 1 quota and I was lucky enough to get it. But what is even more, it is a graduate school and as an undergraduate student I was a bit scared of the challenges ahead of me but still willing to face them.
Spending a whole semester at HEC was a crazy, adventurous, and knowledgeable journey. Within one term, I took 8 classes, as we had two bimesters, and some of the classes lasted just 2 months, but in each course, we had group projects and creative assignments. Most of the classes were practice and groupwork-oriented, which I absolutely loved, as I had a chance to implement my theoretical knowledge, work with students from all over the world and build strong connections with professors from different backgrounds, who motivated us to improve at every step of our work.
What’s the most valuable for me was meeting an amazing group of friends at HEC that became my Erasmus fam. It is incredible how despite coming from so many places like Russia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan- so many different cultures, you can still find so much in common and become close in such a short time and I think this is one of the best aspects of doing an exchange- finding friends is unbelievably easy from the first day. So many memories we shared together: going to the railway station at 7 am, taking croissants and café au lait at the sport-bar, Sunday trip to Versailles and getting lost in the gardens, singing at sunset at Montmartre, visiting Claude Monet’s gardens, trying deserts at Ladurée, walking down Champs-Élysées and around Eiffel tower at night, going to a PSG game, being stuck at metro due to train delays, traveling to other cities, exploring Christmas fairs, participating in the Women Forum at Palais Brongniart, watching FIFA World Cup with thousands of fans- these are just a few of moments that I will always cherish.
As all museums are free in Paris for students and being a big fan of art and fashion, I took every opportunity and tried to visit all possible museums and exhibitions: my absolute favorites were Louvre (which I visited 3 times) and Galerie Dior. Even though our days were busy with lectures and projects, I always tried to go to the city at the first opportunity and just walk and observe. Fascinating architecture, historical places, artists and musicians along the Seine, bookshops… Paris seems like a big city but it really is like a small town and I think that studying in such a beautiful place inspires and motivates people to create, and not just enjoy the creativity. As Ernest Hemingway once said: “There are only two places in the world where we can live happily: at home and in Paris.” I couldn’t agree more.
Spending an exchange at HEC Paris was one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Thanks to the Koç University Office of International Programs (OIP), I had a chance to study in such an amazing school and city, that gave me incredible experience, memories, and growth both personal and career-wise. Erasmus exchange provides a combination of studies, cultural enrichment, traveling opportunities, and deep impressions. HEC taught me to expand my horizons and look beyond them. However, I really missed our Koç campus and Istanbul, and I tried to motivate people at HEC to come and visit. So, I am really happy to be back and spend my last semester at my home university!
Dane Ketuko
Business Administration & Psychology, Senior 
College of Administrative Sciences and Economics