Jayden – Exchange to Catholic University of Lille, France
Semester 2, 2016
What a week!
Arriving in France, on a Sunday was not the best idea. Sunday in Sydney is a vibrant and relaxing day to spend with your friends and family – shopping, eating and engaging with the community. However in Lille, most shops are closed on a Sunday. I admired the main square while no one was around; this was not difficult as the beautiful architecture was inspiring. Luckily enough, I found a small market with a few cafes open. I enjoyed a delightful French meal for dinner followed by the obvious choice of, French toast.
The next day, I got to see my accommodation for the first time. I was not prepared for what I saw. The bare room, with no pots or pans, a simple school chair as the desk chair, a dangling light bulb from the ceiling and a wobbly table and no hot water. Frightening at first, nothing a trip to the infamous Ikea couldn’t fix. 300 Euros later, I purchased all the essentials, and my apartment became a home. I celebrated with a nice bottle of French wine at the park by the canal meeting fellow ACU exchange students from Melbourne for the first time.
By Thursday, I had to register for my Universite Catholique de Lille student card. While registering, I met several exchange students from the USA and that evening we embraced the vibrant student life of Lille by venturing to the bars and clubs (coincidentally only a 10-minute walk from the University and my accommodation).
The next morning came the greatest challenge of all, the registration process for classes. The process had students wandering from poster to poster hung up around the classroom with the timetable. (The experience made me thankful ACU uses Tutorial Direct!) That afternoon, my fellow exchange students and I embarked to the main square and indulged in the Lille atmosphere by eating the very traditional Moules et Frites (Mussels and Hot Chips).
By Saturday, all exchange students deserved a reward for surviving the registration process and successfully settling into our accommodation for the Semester. We attended the Lille Carnival at the park, enjoying rides and Nutella crepes. Sitting at the park in the afternoon, enjoying the French cheese with a baguette whilst the sun went down was a memorable moment reminding me what a journey I have ahead of me.
Overall the week was quite overwhelming, the challenge of settling into a new university in a new country that does not speak English was an eye-opening experience. The challenges of week one made week two so much more enjoyable. I love Lille and the French lifestyle, the classes while different are enjoyable. I am proud to call this vibrant student city my home for the semester.