Arriving to my host country: my initial thoughts and feelings & Challenges I have faced while overseas and how I’ve overcome them

Katherine Ross
Exchange to Universite Catholique de Lyon, France
Semester 2, 2015

I arrived in Lyon, France, my host country, a little over a month ago. My first night in Lyon was one the hardest nights I have experience whilst being overseas. On arrival the first thing I wanted to do was contact my family to let them know I was okay. Unfortunately my residence was not very helpful, they wouldn’t give me the wifi password, and they didn’t show me on a map where I could get Internet or where the closest shops were. I felt very alone. So despite a rocky start, over the next week was orientation. This I was very nervous for… I was scared that my French wasn’t good enough and (although a silly thought) that I wouldn’t make any friends. I soon found that everyone is in the same position as me; they are all here alone and they all want to find friends. I also found that the bit of French I did know was far better than some of the other students. I quickly became friends with people from all over the world. The variety of people from all different countries makes ESDES and international exchange an even more incredible experience.


University here is very different from Australia. Not only do they have mandatory classes, I was required to take on 7 subjects to get full time credit points. This many subjects are normal in France. It was a challenge of course but it has pushed me to focus more on my studies, it has taught me time management skills. I love my subjects; I am focusing mostly on economics and human resource subjects this semester to give me a break from Law, which is quite refreshing. Teaching here is quite strict. During one of my classes we are allowed no technology, not even a laptop to take notes. This I found very weird and confusing to begin with as technology is used in every one of my classes in Australia. Another difference is the assignments. For one of my classes we have to write a 15-20-page essay. This is by far the longest essay I have ever written.


Although it has only been a month, I have found that Lyon is like my new home. It is a beautiful city that in many ways is similar to Melbourne. I look forward to the rest of my stay here.


 Some tips:

  1. Make sure you find a good residence. Although my residence is very close to university, only a 10-minute walk, it is way over priced for what it offers. It is almost double what some of my friends are paying and although it offers a gym. The gym’s equipment is half broken. The rooms are very small and 150 students share the kitchen.
  2. Travel heaps! I have been going on little weekend trips around France and to Germany. My next adventure is to Italy.
Lovely Lyon!

Lovely Lyon!