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Erasmus. New day, new questions. Rhetorical, of course.

What time do I have classes today?
What happened last night?
How late am I already?
How many times will I use my translator app today?
How fast will my french teachers talk?
And, will I actually understand it this time?

Completing an Erasmus in France often poses theses type of questions.

However, although there’s this idea that the Erasmus year is pure partying with a side of study, and yes, this may be true elsewhere, it seems that Sciences Po Lille doesn’t quite understand the simple needs of the average student. Maybe this got lost in translation, who knows.

Background: For those of you that are unfamiliar with the French university system – I don’t blame you, it’s a mess – basically, Sciences Po refers to a collective of Grande Écoles (universities, but not really… yeah, I don’t understand it either) that aims to not only educate France’s political and diplomatic elite, but also a few Erasmus students, too.

Bref: An average day for an Erasmus student with a less-so Erasmus lifestyle is, in a word, muddled. And, with this thought, perhaps the best way to describe an Erasmus student is adaptable.

So then, you wake up, and find out what is in store in terms of lessons. Do I have any reading to do for this class? And please, please say it isn’t all in french… Please. I’m only new to this whole, you know, speaking french thing… Then, the commute; crappy, not-so-sure-if-the-brakes-work bike? or, the metro, despite being slower than the deathtrap of a bike? Bike, it is; Cheaper. (However, I must add that since originally writing this, my bike has now been stolen. Super) 

But once arriving at university, it isn’t so bad. I mean, the building doesn’t exactly inspire but at least it has a library. A very, small library… Anyway, 4 to 6 hours of (broken) English or (confusing) French classes later, it’s time to decide which lovely establishment (or establishments) will host 10 or so quiet Erasmus students for the night.

3am, head home. Or try to, at least. Unfortunately, the time when you truly need the metro, it’s closed. So, since the bike department is now lacking, why not hop on the back of your dutch flatmates bike? That, or the ever so appealing 40 minute walk in the rain.

And… Repeat.

Joking aside, free time is mostly filled up with studying for the relatively interesting modules or exploring the student-friendly city of Lille or other, closely connected European cities with some truly genuine people. And, despite all my sarcastic musings about “questions” and whatnot, there’s one simple question that counters all of the questions that arise with each passing day.

Who cares?

Seriously, choosing to do Erasmus as my placement option has been (so far) one of my best decisions. Underrated and fun city, great people, and I’m living in bloody France. Dream come true. And so, it doesn’t matter what challenges appear each day, I know I have made the right choice.

Post Author: robert

Robert Coate: 21 year old Politics with International Relations student currently "studying" on my erasmus placement year at Science Po in Lille, France.