Tag Archives: france

The end of an era: a year abroad in pictures

As the academic year draws to a close and I find myself with my feet placed well and truly back on British soil, it’s hard to believe that I’ve just spent a whole year abroad, on my own, and survived – who’d have thought?!

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survived!

So this blog post is going to be my final one for Aston’s Placement blog (cry cry), and I thought it’d be rather fitting to do it in pictures, rather than ramblings. Pictures are always more interesting!

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But firstly, I must highlight something quite important. If you’re thinking of undertaking a Year Abroad, there’s one rule I followed. I first set off on my year abroad over a year ago, not having the slightest inkling of what awaited me: lions? the jungle? Goodness knows! But I was only going to France and Spain! Having never lived in a foreign country before, I didn’t have a clue about how to feel. So I shut off the “feeling” part and just got on with it. I did this for the whole year and it worked. This is quite possibly the best advice I can offer. I’ve learnt not to overthink things as it’s not worth the time nor energy, this did wonders for my panic issues. Your family and friends will support you no matter what. Smile, make the most of the opportunity and get on with it – no looking back. Not everyone gets to do what you do, so please, for your own sake, make the most!

TOULOUSE

I am honestly so thankful to Air France, because, without them, I wouldn’t have got to experience and live in the most beautiful city in France. I miss working for them, they were honestly some of the kindest and friendliest faces and I’ve learnt so much from spending 6 months with them. They did so much for me and I honestly can’t thank them enough. They taught me discipline and focus, and how to make my work exciting. My love for Toulouse is beyond words. Of course, there are ups and downs to every experience, but I feel blessed to have been able to live there.

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Toulouse is such a beautiful place and I loved living there. It’s a small city with a massive heart and it felt like home. Aside from my horrendous landlady, I had the best time there, and lived a carefree life (outside of work of course 😉 ).

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I got to take quite a few trips from there too because of its fabulous geographical location.

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Toulouse and Valencia, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Be positive, be happy!

Amy

Vegetarian in France:

Apparently I am a rare breed in France. I exist here as part of a small and slow growing population of vegetarians. Yet really, that isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it would be.

In the 90s in France, 1.5% of the population were vegetarians and that has only increased to 2% recently, yet in the UK, 12% of us are either vegetarian or vegan and this rises to 20% when you look at people aged between 16 and 24. But despite the huge gap between the two countries, there are no real problems.

Telling a french person you are vegetarian is met with a few french ‘uumms’ and ‘errs’, of course, but after only just passed a year of turning vegetarian, I am already a seasoned-pro when it comes to batting off stupid questions about a seemingly rational choice.

– Where do you get your protein from?
– How do you not crave meat everyday?
– If you had to choose between eating meat or dying, which would you choose?
– If I touched you with a bit of chicken, would you be pissed off?
– Is it not really difficult to be a vegetarian?

And so on and so forth. These are genuine questions I and many others have had by the way, and they really aren’t worth answering. Except the last one.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

Channeling my inner Clint Eastwood with this post. An erasmus placement can throw up all types of situations. Some are Good, some are bad, and some are just plain ugly.

The Good

Clichés may exist for a reason, you can’t talk about France without mentioning food, for example. But as a longstanding anti-cliché-r, and because the food in Lille actually isn’t that great, I have to instead talk about the beer. Lille and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region has some of the best beer I’ve ever tried. You can forget the watered-down lager of your 15 year-old days sat in the local park, and instead, actual enjoy a nice beer here in the north of France.

But also, one of the huge bonuses of Lille is its location. The city is heavily influence by the 30 minute drive to Belgium, and the beer there is just a different class. Furthermore, with an airport for the city; two airports an hour away in Brussels; bus links to the likes of Amsterdam, Antwerp and Paris; and finally a Eurostar connection, you pretty much can’t go wrong when you need to escape the bad parts of the placement.

The Bad

Apologises for the lowering of tone. I know, I know, all that talk of beer made me happy, too. But it is important to note that while the placement year is a fun distraction from the work of final year and can really impress on your cv; it is also a time of change and it is only natural that there are going to be bad points.

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Erasmus: Advice from my First Semester:

My return to placement blogging has been a long time coming, and the need to update upon my first post is constantly sitting in the back of my mind, but alas, my relatively small freedom away from exams has returned. Now I can FINALLY restart my meticulously revised routine again, like the good student I am…

So then, my thoughts and of course advice on my first semester of my study/erasmus placement at Sciences Po in Lille, France. (Bit of a mouthful that)

1. PLAN: In truth, I probably should have better planned my arrival in Lille. I had no apartment, and only a week stay in a hostel to find a suitable means of accommodation. That week stay evolved into another week in a different hostel, albeit an improved temporary solution as this hostel thankfully had windows.

(SIDE NOTE.) Living, even if for a week, in a room with no windows is truly a life changing experience. Life changing in the sense that you will never do it again. Jeez.

Luckily, after a week, I managed to sort out a flat on just the outskirts of the city with a french friend of a friend, her french friend and a dutch guy I met at the first window-less hostel.

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“Questions”. – A day in the life of an Erasmus student

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.

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