The first day, week and month:
The first day, week and now month have gone by since I arrived in France and I can officially say j’adore Lyon! This city has a special place in my heart and my love for the city/the French people grows every day. I have explored many of the neighborhoods throughout the city and still have so much more to discover. You know you are in a new place when you have to step to the side as people walk quickly by you. I did not think I was a slow walker until I came to Lyon where everyone is busy walking around from one destination to the next. Everyone walks like they are on a mission and I enjoy this type of atmosphere. Also, my French is continuing to improve everyday whether I’m speaking French to my host mom or someone at the market, my vocabulary is growing. The people of Lyon are not known for their English and this has been great for me because I get to speak more French. At uni I am only speaking English with my classmates and professors but once I leave my head is filled with French.
The first day arrived in Lyon it was raining, classic. However that didn’t stop my host mom from taking me into the center of the city. I remember the first time I walked down Victor Hugo to Bellecour then to Rue de la Republique and it absolutely took my breath away with its simple European feel. Even in the rain it was absolutely breathtaking. This is one of my favorite places until I discovered Place de Jacobins.
The fountain livens the square and is surrounded by outdoor café’s that’s are busy every hour of the day. The French in general are very busy people but always take a break for their afternoon café and that’s when you see most people in the square. At the top of the hill overlooking Lyon is a church called Fourviere and it is immense. Everyone talks about this church and the long hike up the hill, don’t worry there is a bus too. Hopefully I can walk up to Fourviere this weekend if the weather is nice and I have heard the view is amazing, especially at night!
The first week went by quickly and was filled with a lot of rain and even less sunshine. I was settling into my room and getting used to the commute from my home to school. Unlike Salve where I can walk to class in less than 15 minutes, I have to take two buses to Uni. The location is very central to Bellecour and directly next to Perrache, one of the main bus stations in Lyon. In the morning, depending on traffic, it will take about 45 minutes but without traffic only about 20 minutes. I have adjusted slowly to this city life and planning more time to be ready for a long day at uni. Another adjustment was the length of class, they are 3 hours long but only meet once a week. We normally get a break an hour and a half through the class for some coffee or a smoke then 20 minutes later we are back in the classroom learning again. I have three classes that I absolutely love: European Union, International Marketing and Strategic Business Management. Each class is unique but they discuss topics that are completely new to me. Also I have a French language course twice a week. We had a placement test and I was placed into level 5 out of 6 which is almost fluency and was quite surprised. The professor grew up in Lyon is constantly recommending things to see, places to go and where to eat on a budget.
The first month was definitely one to remember including trips to a Beaujolais winery and day trip to Bordeaux, France as well. One thing I learned was definitely not to travel on Sunday because nothing is open, seriously nothing. When we arrived on Sunday morning it was a ghost town and we didn’t have any plans for the day besides walking around and taking the cable car up to the Bastille. When we arrived the cable car was closed, just our luck. We ended up doing some hiking and discovered a university up in the mountains.
The view was absolutely amazing and once we hiked down to the bottom the sun was shining and more places were open for afternoon coffee.
Last weekend was my first time outside of France. My first excursion was to Barcelona, Spain. I hadn’t originally planned on visiting Spain but it was very spontaneous and there we were on a 8 hours bus ride to Barcelona. We did many touristy tours of the city including Sagrata Familia and Parc Guel. My favorite site was the cable car which was called the little red box. Unfortunately none of us spoke Spanish so there was a little bit of a language barrier but I pick up a few words and the majority of people spoke English as well. I didn’t realize how common English was in the big cities.
Learning the French Culture: That time I tried Escargot
My host family has welcomed me with open arms into their home and have made this experience very memorable. The family really treats me like a member of the family. We always speak French at home and am always trying different types of French Cuisine. When I arrived the first week of January there was a cake called la galette des rois. The cake was sold throughout Lyon in bakeries and stores. When you served the cake there was a figurine in it. If your slice of cake had the figurine you are the king or queen. The second time I ate the cake I became the queen which included a crown and a figurine which was porcelain butterfly. Also, Escargot or snail was a food I thought I would never try but my host family introduced me to this French delicacy. They were quite good however what food isn’t good when it is covered in garlic and butter? Maybe I will have them sometime soon. Next French cuisine to try are frog legs, can’t wait!
Some differences I have noticed from the United States while staying in France. #1, everyone smokes. It doesn’t matter your age, young or old, you will see someone smoking cigarettes outside uni or before they hop on the bus. Also, many Europeans greet each other by kissing on the check and in France it is called la bise. In Lyon they kiss once on each cheek and now I greet that way too.
Over the past month as well I have started tutoring some of the kids in our neighborhood. One day at church with my family I was approach but a mom who asked if I could speak with her children in English to help them improve their conversational English. I thought it would be fun and maybe improve my French too so I said I could help. Since then I have gone a couple times and this Wednesday I am tutoring with another family as well. Hopefully I can keep expanding a little network in France and help more families in the neighborhood!
I hope you have enjoyed a brief description of my first month in France! This month I have some exciting trips planned and I just wanted to thank Salve Regina University for giving me the scholarships to be able to travel and live in France for four months.
A tout a l’heure, Emma