Who is Raphaëlle Olive Claude?
Raphaëlle Olive Claude is a 25-years-old Franco-Cameroon student studying at the Institute of Environmental Technologies (IET) in Lyon. She is doing her first year of Professional Master in Environment.
She has quite a “hectic” academic background. Born in Cameroon, she attended primary school there and at 12 years old she flew to Gabon. After some years, she left for Chad where she completed her secondary education.
Then she left Chad for Senegal – her favorite country so far – where she graduated from the ISM (Higher Institute of Management). Having fallen in love with Senegal, she lived there for three years developing projects that promoted African arts and helping innovate learning education arts.
In September 2016, she arrived in Lyon for her first year of Preofessional Master at IET.
Indeed, not everyone has such an academic pathway! Why did you choose to pursue your studies in France? And why did you change from art promotion to something totally different: environment?
I have chosen France because of the accreditation and recognition of its schools and also because I have part of my family already there.
Doing environmental studies is just another way of contributing to development in Africa. Through my studies here, I want to acquire European expertise in this field and later on, go back to Senegal to help rural development and doing consulting in certification.
Moreover, the environmental sector is growing – especially in Africa – and there are more and more job opportunities in this sector.
Tell us about your arrival in France.
I had never been to France before. I arrived in Lyon in September 2016 and I was surprised because it was not as I imagined.
Life here is very demanding. For example, French people are very keen on punctuality, presence or being well-mannered and professional in all situations. People seem to live by the French motto “Vite Fait, mais Bien Fait” and I admire it.
On the other hand, people are also too absorbed in their world. Sometimes they are so focused in their personal duties that they tend be cold to others.
Finally, meeting my family was an extraordinary moment, especially seeing my 93 years old grand-mother for the first time in my life.
How was your integration in France?
It was a cultural shock. I have realized that one needs to constantly inquire about others to show interest in people. Personally, showing that you care for someone is mostly demonstrated through actions rather than just asking questions.
There is more communication in the sense that to show interest, it is necessary to continually ask questions and be more open about your own life.
At school, at the beginning it was difficult to adapt with the classmates as there were tensions in the class. We are only 10 students but several groups were created within us. It was mainly due to our far different backgrounds but in the end after co-working on several projects, a good atmosphere was established in the class.
What do you think of your program at IET and the René Cassin campus?
The program is great and I like the curriculum’s part that deals with quality certification, energy, social responsibility and accreditations. On the other hand, the common core with IDRAC Business School (Finance, Control and Management) is really not my cup of tea!
The campus is great!
Some advice for those who want to study in France?
Yes, two simple words: BE WELL-INFORMED!
It is necessary to understand the program and the school you are choosing, to be sure this is really where you want to build your career. As we know, many students get enrolled on a course then after one year they quit to change for a different study field.
Similarly, do not rely at 100 % on your school to look for your internship or your company if you wish to go ahead with an apprenticeship during your second year.
Same for cost of living: you need to look before you actually arrive in France ! It seems like common sense but lots of students simply arrive with their luggages thinking it’s going to be easy, and it’s not. You have to have an option, even a short accomodation option is way better than nothing!
A person has a day to visit Lyon. What places does he or she have to see absolutely?
Without hesitation, the Basilica of Fourvière which is a symbolic place in Lyon. If he or she is a fan of shopping, the Confluence shopping Center is a must!
I would also add that the person must taste the amazing cheeses St Michel or Caprice Des Dieux.
A little frenchie habit that you have adopted since you are here?
I am not really fond of alcohol, but now I really appreciate a small glass of wine when eating.
And of course after any meal, the perfect marriage: Cheese with red wine! Thanks to my wonderful grandma, Niouf, who initiated me to this tradition.
To finish, describe your new life in Lyon in a few words.
Experience. Discovery. Self-improvement.
Thank you, Raphaëlle!
Raphaëlle Olive Claude
FIGS Student - Professional Master in Environment at IET School