September 08, 2015

I hate to be that person who blogs about their year abroad like they're the first person to ever go on one, but if i'm being honest, these blog posts are more for my future reminiscing so that person I shall have to be.

Hello. My name is Aidan and I study LLB Law with French Law at the University of Aberdeen however I'm currently on an ERASMUS Study Abroad year in Lyon, France. I will study French Law at Université Lumière Lyon II until June (yes, all my courses will be in French and yes, I don't know why I did it to myself either - oh well) but hopefully I will be close-to-fluent in French by the time I return to Scotland.

To give a bit of background about Lyon, it is France's second or third biggest city (not too sure) and is famous for its gastronomy. It's situated in the South-Mid East of France, close to the Italian border and close to the Alps. Like Paris, the city is split into les arrondissements, however it is more laid back than Paris and everyone takes their time going about their day. Two rivers run through the middle of the city - the Rhône and the Saône - with some beautiful bridges connecting the different sides. There are numerous famous monuments in Lyon like the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Musée des Beaux Arts and Parc de la Tête D'Or.

The first thing to prepare for my year abroad was accommodation. After hearing some horror stories about people who arrive with nowhere to stay, I was determined to organise a flat before I left. My flatmate, Carly, and I had decided to search every Lyon property website in the hope of finding somewhere suitable. After seeing some disappointing and horrible adverts, we stumbled across an absolute gem. As it was advertised especially for ERASMUS students, it caught our eye - modern, good location, everything included, a balcony - we thought perhaps it was too good to be true. After each sending a 600EUR deposit, the fear set in that perhaps it was an elaborate scam that we had fallen victim to but there was nothing more we could do to try and verify it. However, when I arrived in Lyon, I was greeted with the perfect flat.

It also helps massively that our landlady is the most lovely woman. She provided us with towels, bed linen, every kitchen utensil you can think of and said that if we ever get in trouble we can call her at 3am if we need to and she'll help us. We are so so lucky since so many people we've met are practically homeless for the foreseeable future.

After my parents said their farewells, I was left to my own devices in my beautiful flat in such a massive country. It was a scary prospect, but still to this day, feels like a long holiday. I somehow think that idea will come crashing down around me when university officially starts.

The next thing to do: make friends. 
There was a party organised for the Wednesday night for all ERASMUS and International students so we decided to go along and meet people. It was a boat party with pre-drinks at a small café-bar in Lyon which we went along to. When we turned up though, it was deserted apart from a big group of people speaking Spanish (which neither of us speak) so we quietly got a drink and sat down at a small table waiting to find people we could talk to. The minutes ticked by until eventually we heard the familiar twang of a British accent. Luckily after we got chatting to them for a while, more and more people started arriving and we met loads of people from all over. The spaniards even joined us later on in the night and we found out that one of them has the accent of Joey Essex when he speaks English - amazing. We then made our to way to the boat party, which was also empty, but when you went in you had to write your name and country of origin on a paper sailor's hat which turned out to be such a good ice-breaker. As the night wore on and as more and more people arrived, we met people from so many countries - Sweden, Canada, America, Italy, Spain, Korea etc.

Unfortunately, the decision to go out turned out to be a bad one as we had our first meeting at the university the next morning. Feeling a tad fragile, we boarded the metro on the way to the uni. The meeting outlined general welcome topics and how to apply for courses. It was my first exposure to what a French lecture would be like and, since I understood roughly 80% of it, I think I did well. However we left with a list of documents and menial tasks we had to complete the start of classes on the 14th. This would be the start to our struggle through the French administrative system.

Our luck at understanding the welcome meeting soon ran out as we were faced with our introductory meeting with the law school. We were greeted by a small, bald yet well-suited Frenchman who was quite intimidating. At a rapid pace, he explained in French about the various convoluted processes we had to go through in order to choose our courses, change our courses, attend our courses etc. Unfortunately for the poor German girl sat next to us, we didn't understand the majority of what he said and she was tasked with translating it for us. After leaving that meeting extremely deflated with confusion and homesickness, we went to the nearest patisserie and indulged a little too much. When in France, eh?

Since we felt down about the mountain of paperwork we were faced with, we decided to go for a day-trip to Grenoble..



  1. Hi Aidan, it's William (French assistant from quite a long time ago now); nice read, I'll try to read your blog as often as I can !

    Welcome to French and beware, French Universities are known to be an administrative mess...

    1. Hi William, thanks for the comment! Yes, they've already lost my documents and given me about 3 different documents that do the same job. Such fun!


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