From Lancaster to Lyon

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Image by Joel Mann

Second year was the best year of my life, so when it (and Extravs) drew to an end, the last thing I wanted to do was up-sticks and leave all that I love for the land of cheese and frog eaters (I apologise now for any horrific stereotypes I may describe across the following year). So how did I end up there?

Back in October of last year the planning began, and at the time it seemed far too distant and out of reach to even consider. As French language students, before we knew it we had the choice between finding ourselves a graduate standard job for the year, working as a language assistant or going to a partner university. I chose the latter, because I soon realised that job hunting was impossible after 3 months of trying, and I can be a language assistant after graduation.

Once the application was sent and confirmation was received all that was left to do (aside from panicking about the year) was find some accommodation. Whilst travelling over the summer I stopped in Lyon for a few nights, mainly to see the city and view a few flats. This really helped! Being able to see my new home and university and find somewhere to live made the whole situation much less daunting. Compared to others in my situation, my fourth floor flat with seven other French-speaking students in a lovely area of the city is absolutely perfect.

D-Day arrived on 26th August; Mum, my step-dad and I made way for France armed with a Tesco’s bag for life filled with all the English necessities: Tetley, rice pudding, Bird’s custard and baked beans (alongside other necessities such as shoes, of course.) The next day, we arrived in Lyon nice and early to sort out obligatory insurance and other necessary administration before I could pick up my keys. So how have I found it so far?

In terms of comparing the university to Lancaster, there are stark contrasts. For starters they have SHARED BATHROOMS. As in, a bathroom has a queue with boys AND girls in and open urinals for all to see. This gave me quite the shock. Also (and I never thought I’d say this) I miss the library. Lyon’s resembles a child’s section of the local council library: 2 bookshelves per subject with very few books on, and coloured plastic chairs to sit on. There are also issues like the lack of somewhere to go to eat your own food, the horrendous organisation and bureaucracy of this place and the fact that EVERYONE smokes.

That said, the people here are lovely, and nothing like the stereotypes (so far). I’ve never felt more welcomed by strangers, both in my flat and at the university. This is probably because I have a sign on my forehead saying “HELP! I’m foreign and lost”, but still, they are so very lovely. On top of that, the food is incredible – I’ve already eaten out more times than my student loan can allow for (and my jeans come to think of it) and the social life is pretty hectic. Having 2 rivers, there are a variety of bars, restaurants and clubs on boats. Ayers Rock instantly reminds me of Sugarhouse, but really, can any other place play Spice Girls and actually get away with it? The answer is a resounding “no”. This is not aided by the ever-increasing comments regarding Sugar, Hustle and Lancaster in general on my Twitter and Facebook news feeds. I miss you, Lancaster!

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