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Advice for my year abroad in France: a letter to my past self

Dear past self,

As you embark on your year abroad in Lyon, there are a few things I want you to know in order to maximise your experience. So, listen carefully:

Choose the right accommodation

Finding accommodation will hands down be the hardest thing you do - it’s not your fault, Lyon is simply so popular amongst students that the supply can’t keep up with the demand.

Honestly, I really recommend sorting out accommodation before you arrive, but if you haven’t yet, don’t panic. I found my permanent accommodation after two months of temporary places: hope is in sight! I would advise trying to find a shared apartment with someone from your university who is also completing their year abroad in the same town, as this makes the assimilation period a lot less jolting and a lot more relaxed.

Lyon offers various options, these include: university residences, private apartments, and homestays.

MES supports Brothers & Sisters during the process.

Explore beyond Lyon

While I’ve had countless incredible experiences here in Lyon, I'd advise you to take advantage of your time abroad by visiting other parts of France and Europe too.

Booked in advance, trains aren’t expensive, and Lyon is perfectly located -within 2 hours of Geneva, Annecy, La Cote d’Azur and Paris. On top of this, travelling with new international friends is a great way to solidify friendships and create shared memories. I found my current housemates by travelling with a new group!

Consider venturing to neighbouring countries such as Italy, Switzerland, or Germany; seize the opportunity of your year abroad in France and fully embrace the wonders of mainland Europe.

The Alps, Paris and the South of France

Think logistically

Come prepared with a French CV and cover Letter! It is also important that you get a french SIM card as soon as you arrive. The admin may seem like an uphill battle but the rewards will soon pay off and having control at the beginning of your experience will allow you to make the most of your time.

Validate your French visa upon arrival by following the instructions online, after all your hard work to get one this is the final step, don’t forget it! And last but not least - do not pack your whole wardrobe there’s no way you’ll be able to get it all back home, plus the amount of beautiful items you can find here will make you regret bringing anything in excess.

Embrace the Gastronomy

I quickly found out that Lyon is a foodie's paradise, so be prepared to indulge in its culinary delights. Try the praline brioche, a Lyonnais regional delicacy. Don't miss out on a meal at one of Lyon's famous bouchons (classic restaurants renowned for their rich traditional Lyonnaise food).

Most importantly, you absolutely must visit the local food markets to sample fresh produce, artisanal cheese, and wine. Lyon's gastronomic scene is one of the city’s biggest assets, so I’m really hoping you will savour each meal and embrace the city's culinary traditions.

traditional lyonnaise brioche, a bouchon and a cheese market

You should keep in mind that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for academic and personal growth. Take on new challenges, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and make the most of each day. You will be enchanted by Lyon's mode de vie, and you will return home with priceless memories and a fresh outlook.

Bon voyage et profite de cette aventure extraordinaire!


Your Future self

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