Living away from home for the first time

Joanne Chard
Exchange to Catholic University of Lille, France
Semester 2, 2015


For someone who has lived in a big family her whole life and has shared her room with her sister, walking into my own place was a huge deal for me. While I live with many other students from all over the world, it can be so easy to isolate yourself in your own room. The first night I arrived in Lille, loneliness kicked in and I hated how cut off I felt. This was also not helped by the fact I had no Wi-Fi in my room to message others.

Over this week though as other students have arrived and I’ve made friends, I’ve come to love where I live. My exchange is in Lille in France, which is known for being a bubbly, lively university town. I live outside Lille, in Lomme so it takes me about 20 minutes on the metro to get into the city centre. My accommodation is known for being one of the cleaner places and as I’ve found out one of the friendliest places as well.

Arriving to Lille, I was so scared, especially as I did not realise I had to purchase all my own cooking utensils, bedding and food. Coming from a family where mum did it all did not prepare me for this. Luckily I ran into a lovely girl called Korman on my first day in the kitchen who took pity on me and took me to IKEA and the supermarket so I could set myself up.

Doing my own washing for the first time was also intimidating, luckily my best friend from Australia was with me to tackle the scary French washing machine with me! I accidently set the washing machine to wash my clothes for two hours instead of one so it took ages. Then figuring out how to get the washing out of the machine involved the process of unplugging the washing machine, kicking the washing machine and pressing random buttons. Eventually the door was opened and we transferred all the clothes to the dryer that was also tricky as it was in French as well!

Making food for myself is something I got used to at home with breakfast and lunch however, coming home and not having dinner prepared is something that I’m still getting used to! Finishing university at five or six, I come racing home to find no food in the fridge as I have been too lazy to go shopping. Sadly, it is now up to me to feed myself and cook for myself so I’m trying to cook. So far I have cooked eggs, had a few salads and bread but haven’t had the courage to cook meat yet in case it goes wrong. Also, meat is expensive.

Another thing that is taking used to is using my own money to buy everything. While I have worked since I was 15 years old and do pay for a few things back home, food, rent and travel expenses were not included in that. Having to budget and ensure that everything is covered is something that I have to learn how to balance. I’m sure in time all this will come second nature to me and having to go home and live with my large family will be something to adjust to again. Living out of home is a challenge especially in a country where another language is spoken but it’s also fun and being able to do whatever I want when I want is awesome!