Something a little different today eh? I decided to give the beauty chat a break from for today so I could talk about something a little more personal and share the experience of my year abroad in France. I thought that it could be quite insightful and helpful for some of you if you are about to embark on something a little similar. In attempt to keep this as short and sweet as possible, is everybody sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
I will start off by covering the basics, I study French at university so it was obligatory for my degree to go to France for my third year to work or study. So, I studied at a university in Montpellier for a year and returned home to England around two weeks ago. Even though it seemed like time passed so slowly at certain points, I can’t believe that those eight months away have been and gone but I am now going to take a trip down memory lane and give you some a few pointers and words of wisdom as I go.
After having moved in to my prison cell of a uni room (the lack of storage space was not appreciated by my shoes). came the first daunting day of university. Will I understand what’s going on? Will people be nice? What shall I have for lunch? These were just some of the questions that were running through my mind on that day. As always, it is never a good idea to work yourself up so much because all you end up with are sweaty palms and a stutter but once you put your mind to it, it really isn’t as bad as you think. Through out the year studying at a French university, you realise how different things are and that the only person you can rely on is yourself because with the constant strikes (it’s not a myth, the French love to strike), the absence of teachers and just the lack of a professor/student relationship, you soon realise that you have to find out everything for yourself if you want to have a chance of knowing what is going on. The disorganised way in which things were done just didn’t do it for me and caused me to have many flustered sobs and stress but you just have to realise to take things with a pinch of salt and remember that the other English students who are there with you are all in the same boat. Once I came to terms with this fact, it made me relax a bit more and not let it ruin the experience because how many people can say that they were able to live in the South of France for eight months?
Work life aside, it was important to keep busy and have play time too because sometimes you need a distraction from homesickness or general university stress. I visited a few other towns and cities during my time which was a great opportunity to get a taste of the culture (by culture I mean food) and make some memories. If I could change anything about my year abroad, I would definitely say that travelling to more places around France would be something I would do more of because it really is the best way to learn new things and use the language. But I did my fair share and did things out of my comfort zone like canoeing for example. Me and canoeing usually would not mix but it was good to do something different and get involved but my canoeing story did not end sweetly, all I will say is that I lost my sunglasses, an expensive pair may I add and broke my phone, not cool.
On the language side of things, I have improved in the sense that my confidence in speaking French is so much better than it was but if you really want to step it up, you have to make some French friends, which is something I found difficult to branch out to but wish I had tried more with. Anything is better than nothing so going out to shops and restaurants or meeting people out and about are all good things that will help to improve your skills. Watching ‘Friends’ in French was a personal favourite of mine, mainly because I can recite every episode backwards anyway, so I already knew what was going on, but we will just keep that between us.
Looking back, I did have a good year and made some memories and good friends and even though there were some rough days, I’m glad that I did it and would tell anyone to do it if they could because you learn a lot not only about the language and a different way of life but also about yourself and I think it has done me well *pats on the back*, not to mention that food was just so moreish and I am now paying the price for all those pastries, bread and wine but I’m sure I will live. Three things I would say to anyone who is going to do the same thing: Don’t take things too seriously, do things out of your comfort zone and make the most of your time because boy oh boy, it flies by.