April 23, 2015, by Rachel Bainbridge
I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings
Anxious, excited and armed with every document possible ready to tackle the infamous French bureaucracy, I arrived in Orleans very late at night to an unfriendly taxi driver and a closed hotel. I immediately thought that everything was going to go wrong from there. But how wrong was I. I am having a brilliant time and quite frankly, don’t want my year abroad to end. The combination of having no studying to do, being free to travel to anywhere in France and Europe and being surrounded by great people is just amazing.
So after not a lot of sleep, I headed to find my accommodation and was pleasantly surprised by how central and lovely my studio was, and most of all how charming and pretty the city is. I couldn’t have felt more pleasantly surprised and this feeling just kept growing as I began to explore the quaint side streets filled with boutique shops, cafes and street bars. I knew already that I could get used to this way of life just too easily.
The first couple of weeks were very busy with trying and most of the time, failing to conquer the huge and never ending list of admin. People had warned me about this at uni, but I never actually realised how much patience I would need to do such simple things which at home, are done so quickly and without a language barrier. So I spent most of my first week and a half queuing in internet shops, banks and being on hold to French electricity companies whilst in the end, not really getting anywhere. The most ridiculous time was when I went to buy my tram pass and spent the best part of an hour queuing to be told I had to come back another day because I hadn’t brought my proof of address with me. Since when do you need a proof of address to buy a tram card for one month? So if I’ve learnt one thing in France, it is to never expect something will be sorted out the first time. But hey, it’s all sorted now.
I soon settled into my lycee and was welcomed into all of my classes by the lovely students. You never know how it is going to be when working with teenagers, they could be moody or demotivated but they are great, enthusiastic kids.
So I spent the first week delivering presentations about myself and life in England and was surprised at how curious the students were to ask me more questions. Each lesson brings something different and the students never fail to entertain me.
As soon as I arrived, I met a lot of lovely assistants from all over the U.K and beyond and know for sure that we will be good friends for a long time. We all want to make the most of our free time (which we have quite a lot of) and have travelling in common, which is great. We have planned several trips away for this term to Belgium, Strasbourg, Dijon etc and have visited several chateaux and local towns. The list is endless, so my major concern is whether I will have enough weekends to do all the trips I’m planning.
I am having the best time meeting new people, trying local delicacies, travelling to different cities and speaking French when I’m not being a typical Erasmus student so I’m feeling very lucky right now. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings…
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