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in     by Eloisa Payne 01-12-2017


First of all, I apologise for the awful pun in the title. It had to be done.

I only have just over 2 weeks left of my first Erasmus semester in Lyon before I go back home to Birmingham for Christmas. I have been here for nearly 4 months now, which rather a long time but it has actually gone so fast.

It’s so weird to think that I am already halfway through my year abroad, as it is something I’ve been anticipating for quite a long time, as I’ve always wanted to study modern languages for at least a part of my degree. 


Reflecting on my time here, it has been such a good experience overall, but such a challenging one. Living in a different country is a lot harder than I originally thought. I naively thought it would be a breeze just because my French was at quite a good level before I left (or so I thought). I discovered quite quickly that my French was very rusty after spending a summer without speaking it at all, and that the language you need for general everyday life is not what they teach you at school and university. Getting used to a completely different university system here was also quite difficult, from the lecturers speaking at 100 miles an hour in French with no PowerPoint, to turning up to class where there was an exam that I had no idea about. That being said, it has definitely improved my language a lot.

It is difficult to say whether it has lived up to my expectations before I came. In my opinion, the year abroad is portrayed as more of a gap year or holiday, and because of that there is a huge pressure to be constantly having a good time, travelling to somewhere new every weekend and having a perfect Instagram. What people don’t realise is that trying to quickly settle in to a country that you’ve never lived in permanently before whilst attending university in a completely different language and trying to make the most of it at the same time is rather difficult. Although I think I’ve managed to make the most of it despite this.

I am definitely looking forward to going home as I haven’t actually been out of the country for such a long period of time before. I’m excited to see my friends, family and my dog and experience some proper cold weather (it literally was over 25 degrees here up until the end of October). However, I do feel really lucky to have been able to study here and I really will miss it, but I am looking forward to these last few weeks as it’s the Lyon light festival / fête des lumières soon which is a must see.

So what’s next? Next semester, starting April, I am going to be studying in Cologne for the German half of my degree, which I’m really excited for. Although, I started German at university as a beginner (as I didn’t do the A level) so living in Germany will really be a challenge.

Thanks for reading!