As an international Law School, we offer lots of opportunities for our students to experience other cultures. Read on to find out about LLB International Law student Claire Kasasbeh’s experience studying in France.
I began my experience in France blind. I didn’t know the language, the city, the culture and anybody there. It was daunting. I spent a month feeling lost with the only phrase I knew in French being ‘sorry, do you speak English?’ but that didn’t stop me. I went to Lyon for the same change that overwhelmed me, so I embraced it.
My university was Jean Moulin 3, an old tobacco factory that has now been modified to beautiful university buildings. There I studied in English, but had obligatory French language and culture classes which helped with the integration process into this new life. I was able to study modules I have always wanted to study like: Art and Politics, which analysis the political expressions and activist voices reflected in art, as well as go to trips with the university like skiing in the French Alps for a weekend.
It felt like the opportunities were endless. Given that our classes were set with other Erasmus students I got to also meet many people from all over the world, learning new Aussy slang and the odd Portuguese word from my Brazilian class mates. Our classes were set up to allow us to get to learn from each other as much as from the lesson content. It was a humbling experience realising how many different cultures, languages and lives there are out there.
“It felt like the opportunities were endless…our classes were set up to allow us to get to learn from each other as much as from the lesson content.”
The city itself was breath-taking. Imagine waking up on a sunny day, looking out of your window to elegant French scenery, getting a croissant for a euro, walking by the river on your way to class and hearing one of the most beautiful languages around you everywhere. I didn’t want to leave. Lyon had the perfect location, in my opinion, with everything nearby. A bus to Geneva was two hours away, a train to Milan was only 5 hours, and Paris was only two hours. This opened up travelling opportunities that I was always too anxious to embark on. I visited the United Nations Head Quarters in Geneva for a little daytrip, I took a train to Milan – to visit my friend also on placement there – for a concert, and I went to Paris to see my old friends from college who took a little holiday to the city. I saw more places in the short time I was in Lyon than the last five years of my life and I can be nothing but grateful.
I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and integrated myself with the Lyonnais lifestyle and locals. Although this was isolating linguistically, learning the language was a priority for me living there. I would sit in silence listening to my friend’s conversations trying to pick up the odd words. I met the kindest people and they would translate for me if I was confused, encouraging me to be a part of their conversations and practice the little French I had. By the end of the experience, their patience and my efforts paid off, and now I can confidently say I have a conversational level in French.
My time abroad has opened my eyes to more things than I imagined it would do and I would not change this experience for world.
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