Bonjour from France! I’m a third year BA French & Italian student, currently on my Year Abroad which is a compulsory component of my degree (lucky me!). Although I’ve been living in France for almost three months now (!), I thought I would start by telling you all how I managed to get here in the first place!
In January 2014 my coordinators told me where I had been placed to study for the year: l’Université de Nantes, France, for the first semester and l’Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy for the second. Two wonderful cities that I had never seen in the flesh and knew little about. An adventure, for sure!
The application process to study in Nantes was quite daunting to being with. There were lots of instructions, countless forms and numerous documents to be sent to France. It’s a lengthy, meticulous process, which requires a considerable amount of perseverance and organisation right through the middle of exam time (all I can say is, photocopy everything!). However, I eventually received confirmation of my place and my accommodation details (I decided to stay in student residences). If there is one thing that I have learnt about French administration, it’s that while it may be one of the most stressful things I have ever encountered, if you’re proactive it really does all work out in the end. Before I knew it, I had my flights and overnight stay in a hostel booked and I was ticking off the weeks before I said goodbye to the UK for the foreseeable future.
It arrived quicker than I ever expected! On the 2nd September I arrived at Gatwick, my life packed into two suitcases. With a mixture of nerves and excitement, I queued with all the holidaymakers who were leaving the UK for two or three weeks, knowing I wouldn’t be back for a while. Of course, having no idea what to expect when I landed in the middle of France was slightly daunting, but the nerves were certainly subsided by the anticipation!
As Nantes and Cardiff have a big Erasmus exchange there were 6 of us taking the same flight as we all had to be there for the 3rd of September, and it was nice to see some friendly faces who were all going through the same thing! We all sat in the departure lounge speculating what Nantes would be like when we arrived, what our accommodation would be like and who we would meet along the way. Would we understand everyone? Would we get hopelessly lost? What was the city like?
Gatwick to Nantes is a one hour flight. We blinked, and we were in France. In a rush of garbled French we managed to get a taxi to our hostel (luckily we have all improved since then!), where after booking in we all started to relax: we had made it! We had got here, and the adventure was just about to begin…
We all went to bed early knowing that the next day was going to be crazy. We had an exam at 9am (which we had only found out about after we had booked our flights!), but still had no keys for our student accommodation! That is certainly a story for my next post!
À la prochaine!