In this post, we hear from our guest blogger Jill about her experience of studying abroad in Lyon, France, both in exchange through Melbourne Uni, and independently for her Masters.
When I left France after a year-long exchange on the first of January 2014, I remember feeling sad, not because I was leaving, but because I felt I wasn’t quite finished yet. I wanted to continue exploring this country, this gorgeous city of Lyon, from the back streets of Croix Rousse to the ins and outs of university life. To learn how to use French for banter and colourful insults so that talking with people my own age would be less of a painstaking task and more a normal part of daily life. As much as I loved my exchange experience, these were things of which I felt I only got a brief glimpse.
Yet nine months later I was on a plane back to Lyon, enrolled in a Masters of English Teaching. I chose this for a number of reasons: I knew the Civilisation Britannique department was excellent, I had always wanted to study history but had just never found the space for it in my Bachelor’s degree, I liked the idea putting English in perspective as a second language and at the same time continuing with French.
These were all great ideas of course, though when all was said and done, I arrived back with very little idea of what I was doing. I soon found myself preparing for hardcore competitive examination, constantly tired and stressed, yet still happy to be meeting the quirky bunch of people that hoped to someday call themselves English teachers. Being one of the only non-French students in the course had its comic moments, as well as its frustrations and occasionally that creeping feeling of isolation.
It’s quite strange talking to exchange students now, explaining what I’m doing here. I hear a lot of things that I once felt myself. I wish I had more French friends. I wish I spoke more French. I wish I had more time… Some people say I’m brave and others say it sounds so adventurous. Really though, I just feel lucky that I had a chance to come back, something I know a lot of exchange students wish they could do but never consider it as a real option.
By Jill Royal.