Katharina Friege

Name: Katharina Friege

Hometown and Country: Stuttgart, Germany

Graduation Year: 2017

Degree Completed at Sciences Po: Bachelor of Arts, History and Sociology

Degree Completed at Sciences Po: Bachelor of Arts, Double Major in English Literature and History

Why did you choose to pursue the UBC Sciences Po Dual Degree? 

I chose to pursue the UBC Sciences Po Dual BA almost by accident to be honest. I was not yet quite sure what I wanted to do after high school, but had applied to universities in Europe and Canada. I think in February or March, I received an e-mail from UBC that introduced the programme and asked whether I would be interested. It sounded really great, really engaging, and it wasn’t a chance I wanted to miss. So I set up an information interview with reps from each school and officially indicated I wanted to apply. I really loved the idea of gaining two very different and very valuable experiences at two different universities pursuing two different degrees in two different countries.

What are some of the highlights from your time at Sciences Po, and at UBC? 

A definite highlight from my time at Sciences Po was the amazing and tight-knit student community there. Everyone was involved and engaged in campus life in some form or another. Everyone joined associations and societies. Because it was so small, everyone knew everyone else at the very least by name. It was great to have such a strong support network within the courses, which were also very small, as well as outside of academics.

A highlight at UBC was the gorgeous campus and the gorgeous city. The UBC campus is huge and hosts such a variety of amazing places and opportunities to get involved. Similarly, Vancouver is a beautiful city with innumerable cultural and athletic sites. At UBC, I also really appreciated the chance to choose from a wider scope of classes, including courses outside the social sciences. Finally, I think a highlight of living in Vancouver and studying at UBC is the food the city has to offer – from sushi to ramen to hole-in-the-wall burritos, it is amazing.

What were some of the challenges that you faced at Sciences Po, and at UBC? 

At Sciences Po, the high academic standards were a challenge for me. The workload is quite intense and you take a high number of classes, eight or nine per semester. Especially in the first semester, this took a lot of getting used to. However, the support of friends going through the same process as well as that of the professors and TAs was very helpful.

At UBC, it was quite disorienting and challenging to be in such a big school after the small, contained community at Sciences Po. Suddenly there were tens of thousands of students and the campus itself was larger than the downtown area in Reims. I did not expect the combined academic and culture shocks of moving from Sciences Po to UBC, and from France to Canada, that initially hit me.

Can you tell us about some clubs, affiliations, and experiential learning opportunities that you participated in? 

At Sciences Po I was actively engaged in Model United Nations, and participated in organizing the RIMUN conferences for the years 2014 and 2015. I also started a book club called Joie de Livre that met up regularly to read poetry, novels and short stories and hosted literary themed events.

At UBC I wrote articles for the culture and science sections of the Ubyssey as a staff writer. I also volunteered for a literacy mentorship organization called “the Writer’s Exchange”, which offers after school programmes based on reading and writing in East Hastings, and occasionally volunteered at Ronald McDonald House BC events, such as the Sun Run or the Enchant light maze.

What advice would you give to students who are considering this program, or just starting out in this program? 

Having just graduated from the programme, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wish I had known before starting, and all of the things I now know that would have made it easier. But I think at the end of the day, no matter what others tell you before you start something, you will still have to learn how to deal with the unexpected yourself as unexpected situations arise. So in terms of advice, I would say trust your friends and don’t be afraid to rely on them. They will need to rely on you in turn. And the other piece of advice I have is to avoid, as best as you can, any rigid expectations of either Sciences Po or UBC (or France or Canada for that matter). If your expectations are set in stone they will most likely be disappointed.

What’s next for you? 

I will be starting a Master’s programme at Oxford in the UK. I will be doing an MSt in British and European History.