Studying in Canada for my second year at Warwick University was unusual.
Going on another year abroad to study in France for my third year was even more so.
But speaking French to a high level has been a personal goal of mine since going on a French exchange in my second year of secondary school, so it had to be done.
I saw an Erasmus year as the final opportunity for me to spend a year concentrating on improving my French before I started my professional life.
Moreover, I would be paid to do so through the Erasmus grant. Given that I was unready to choose my career path and wanted to prolong my university career for as long as I could (being a student is awesome!), studying in France for the year seemed an obvious choice.
My choice of city (Lyon) and university (Sciences Po) actually resulted from the friends I made in Canada. I was lucky enough to make friends with a large group of Lyonnaise students also studying in Canada as part of their degree.
In particular, I remember Canoeing through the Algonquin National Park with the colours of the Fall surrounding us, discussing what life was like as a student in Lyon. It was an experience I will never forget and the conversations we had about Lyon during this time cemented my choice to study there for my third year.
“C’est moins cher que Paris”, “une ville des étudiants”, “la cuisine Lyonnaise est trop bien” and “c’est parfait si tu veux faire du ski” were the major attractions alongside the prospect of rejoining the group. I can honestly say it was a fantastic choice.
Lyon will forever hold a special place in my heart.
One of the great things about studying in Lyon is that you get to know the city incredibly well. It is extremely easy to navigate, with two beautiful rivers, the Saône and the Rhône, running through it. Yet the city itself is definitely big enough to have a great variety of things to do. My personal favourite, though, was sitting by the river with friends with a case of beer on the warm summer evenings.
Learning a language is obviously tough too. This was my goal from the outset, and I was determined to find a way to practice my French actively, alongside the passive listening involved in lectures (and somewhat active interaction in seminars) at Sciences Po.
I was also keen to add to my Erasmus grant too, as this did not cover the entirety of my living costs in Lyon. Finding a job was important to me.
Childcare and particularly teaching children, is something that I have done in the past and enjoy very much. It is also a great way to learn a language as children will speak to you without the hesitation of being unsure if you will understand or not as a native speaker.
Moreover, the skills developed and exercised whilst working with children are easily transferrable into future life.
Learning how to communicate effectively, be organised and reliable are great things to gain practice in as a student.
Working with children is also great fun too and much more rewarding than traditional bar or café work.
[photo: collecting little Pierre from school]
I was relieved to find a childcare agency like as My English Sister. The pay is much better than what is offered generally for childcare and teaching. Moreover, Katy and Charlotte provide you with teacher training and unlike if you were to do it freelance, not only do they speak your (native) language, but they will support you throughout the process of starting and actually doing your new job.
Both of them also understood the realities of being an exchange student which was helpful too and through the MES social gatherings they organised, it was a really lovely way to meet a group of enthusiastic, outgoing and charming exchange students with similar interests to myself.
My year abroad was an experience I will never forget. Waking up and eating fresh bread from the local boulangerie, walking to classes at Sciences Po and being able to enjoy the beautiful views of the Saône whilst improving my French are memories I continue to treasure, despite the craziness of lockdown.
I would fully recommend finding a job as part of this experience as financially, of course, it was a welcome aspect of my time abroad, but it gave me experiences to develop myself professionally and personally.
Moreover, teaching children, in my experience, particularly improved my French. Lyon is a wonderful city and a fantastic place to spend a year abroad as part of your degree. My advice is do not hesitate: you will have an unforgettable experience.
If you are heading to Lyon on your year abroad, like working with children and are looking for part time work don't hesitate to contact us directly to hear more about the opportunities available (firstname.lastname@example.org).