You don’t know what you don’t know

Where do I live

  1. First of all you will know this before you even get there however you will have to find your way there. It isn’t too difficult is you do some planning whether it’s taking a metro or bus. I would say it’s important to learn the public transportation system immediately because you will most likely be using it every day. In Europe taxi’s are very expensive so I would avoid them at all cost.

How do I get to school

  1. Depending where you live but it’s probably going to be via public transportation (transports en commun). In Lyon the service was called TCL. They are always checking tickets because many people get on without buying them. I would see undercover TCL agents all the time in the tram.
  2. I would recommend looking up the location of your school before you get there and see how far it is from your residence. Once you know this you can always use google maps.

How will I communicate with parents/friends

  1. I would recommend bringing your own phone and purchasing a sim card for 10 Euro and then a plan for 20 Euro a month. In France there is a company Free that worked very well for me and would highly recommend.
  2. Just remember to keep your American SIM card.
  3. It is easy to keep in touch with people via google hangouts/whatsapp/facebook when you have wifi. If you don’t have wifi at your residence it might be more difficult. I was lucky to live with a family and had wifi in my room.

Who am I living with

  1. Yes this is probably the largest risk because you don’t know your roommates and for me I didn’t know my host family. However just like uni in America it’s going to be a risk.

What are the courses like

  1. The courses are generally longer around 3 hours and meet only once a week. This is both good and bad. Meeting once a week gives you more time to travel, hang with friends and chill in general.
  2. There isn’t homework but the grades are majorly reliant on final exams. Everyone is cramming to get good grades.
  3. Ok so the grades in France are on a scale out of 20. 14-20 in France transfers back to US grades as an A. Once you get below that you go down 1 letter grade.

Where will I meet friends

  1. Always do the events that the school or program organizes! It’s a great way to meet people and find a group to travel with.
  2. It is important to find people to travel with. For me I had trouble with this…I found many friends but they had already been to the places I wanted to go. I ended up going to less places on my list than I wanted but I am still overall happy with the amazing places I went to.

How much money am I going to spend on trips around Europe

  1. There are many inexpensive ways to travel around Europe however the less expensive the transportation is, it is probably also twice the time. There are options such as BlaBlaCar and FlixBus/OuiBus that operate throughout Europe. If you are willing to pay more money there are trains and planes as well. There are sites to check for cheaper flights such as skyscanner and eDreams, thoese seemed to be the two relilable websites to compare fares.
  2. The two main costs when you go on excursions will be your accomidations and transportation. You have to choose whether you want to stay at a hostel or AirBnb. I would also keep in mind how you are going to get from the train station/airport to your hostel because if you have to find public transportation I would suggest doing that before you leave.

Is it safe to travel around Europe

  1. The best advice I got about traveling was to always figure out how to get from the train station/airport to the place you’re staying. Plus it’s always going to cost extra money that you might not have budgeted for.
  2. In the middle of my time in Europe the Brussel attacks happened. This was definitely a sensitive time in Europe. I had two friends from Brussels who were quite upset but other than that no one was directly affected.
  3. It is very typical to see military men walking around train stations and airports for our safety. Once the Brussels attack happened security was definitely heightened.

Over the past 4 months I have spent living in Lyon, France. I haven’t considered the risks I had to take or the possible dangers I might encounter. Studying abroad is a unique experience that leads to independence and a true self-belief.

I learned that there would be a curve of emotions. Of course it starts with excitement then slopes down to culture shock. Once the culture shock and homesickness is over we begin adjusting to our new environment until we finally master this new life. This new life is far from home, in a different language, and a completely different routine.

When I first arrived in Lyon I wanted to get a daily, even weekly schedule however I quickly realized that living abroad isn’t predictable.

The first big change for me was living in a city. I grew up in a small town where public transportation doesn’t exist but everyone has cars instead. Then when I moved to college it was a bigger town but not a city. Lyon is the largest city I have lived in and in Lyon public transportation becomes your best friend. It is an adjustment having to rely on the system but it’s very easy to learn. For me I felt it was difficult to balance spending time with friends and living with a host family. Maybe it’s because I care but I didn’t like to miss dinner because I felt it was rude. Therefore when my friends went out to dinner at 8 I sometimes had to miss it. However I really enjoyed my host mom’s cooking and wanted to be there for dinner. Truly I didn’t because close with friends because I felt so far away even though it was only one bus ride/20 minutes.

One of my favorite trips was my Italy trip. I went with two friends from the UK and one from Finland. First we went to Rome then to Florence. My sophomore year at uni I took a course on Renaissance Florence. It was my dream to visit the city and truly see for myself all the artwork I had studied. There is a difference because just studying a topic and knowing about it to truly knowing it when you see it. For me this was the most eye opening experience. My last month abroad and I finally went to visit Paris. I told myself many times how could I live in France for four months and not visit Paris. And Paris truly lived up to every expectation I had. I had seen many movies filmed in Paris and it is just like the movies. Oh and La Tour Eiffel is beautiful especially at night. I always saw these two cities from an outside perspective until this year when I finally visited them.

I would like to thank everyone who made this semester possible. Studying abroad was truly one of the best decisions I made and cannot wait to travel again soon.

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