For those that don’t live in Europe, Erasmus is a program by the European Union that allows students of all areas but in particular, language students to study and live in other countries for a while, usually these countries are in the European Union but sometimes they’re outside of it too.
I went to France for a while in March. It was actually my first real French experience. I stayed just outside Lyon, the second biggest city in France with a host family. The family were literally the best hosts I could ever ask for. Elise and Yohan were the couple I stayed with, and their daughter Romain, je suis désolé si ca n’est pas correct. I stayed with another student which made things easier for the both of us, we were lucky because the other’s were on their own.
I had a Europass work placement. Of course, mine had to be canceled. Luckily enough, there was a high school I was allowed work at while studying at the same time of course, but the classes were pretty much the same as they were at home so I don’t think it should write about that so much. I was mainly in the library, where there was a girl called Jullie whom worked there. To my surprise, she was an au pair in Ireland so her English was pretty good but I still spoke in French because I was there for a reason. I interacted a lot with the students, they were all the same age as me so it was easy to talk to them. The only barrier to speaking with them is the slang. I’m not really used to French slang and it’s also quite regional, as is the accent. The work days are pretty easy in France. Usually there’s a 1.5 – 2 hour lunch brake around 12pm, it was amazing, the only downside to this is that almost everywhere is closed, maybe not in big cities but where I was, most shops were closed during this time.
Later that week, I did presentations to final year students about the Erasmus, Dublin and a presentation to help them with their oral exam. To be honest, the only people that could have a light conversation in English were the ones that spend a lot of time in an English speaking country so I spoke French through the presentations, they were quite surprised that I speak French, I was the first anglophone most of them heard speaking French “IL PARLE FRANCAIS?!” were the most prevalent words I head during the presentations.
After the last presentation, I got word that I finally had another work placement. This time, I got to work in a lawyers office. This was really cool because I got to go to the tribunal courthouse everyday, I still have never been to one in Ireland, not to complain. But it was great to see how the law system works in France. They seem more strict on driving there but I’ve been with people over there and seen crazy types of driving. For example, the taxi service was really busy one night and we would have waited about three hours for a taxi one night after the pub closed. We met these girls that were going to a night club in the same area as where we were staying. They have been drinking before and quite drunk but we still got in the car, it was the only option. There were 8 people in the car in total on top of each other with a drunk driver. The French was so nice though.
For the last weekend in France, we did something really exciting. We took the TGV to Paris and stayed in an AirB&B in the city center. It was amazing. I got to see a tonne of sights, drank a lot of cheap wine and the best part was independence. I know it’s childish to think of it in that way but I’ve never really done something like that where it was so spontaneous and exciting. I spend about 1000€ on shopping which I still kinda regret but yeah, totally worth it.
We did out last week of work and going to classes. I met some amazing people in France that I wish to keep in contact for the rest of my life. The people were the nicest I’ve ever met and the food was the best I’ve ever ate. Lyon is now one of my favorite cities in the world, I could set up camp in Part-Dieu. I love that place, apart from the man smoking weed in the middle of the shopping center. The last day we went on another shopping spree there, I came home with a new wardrobe.
Seriously, if anyone has the chance of doing an Erasmus or even Europass program, I can’t express enough how good it will be. I’ll never forget it. I can’t wait to go back to Lyon and do it all over again.