A day in the life of a year abroad student…

…by Phoebe / from Scotland / studying French and Business / 3rd Year (UG)


In Lyon I am met with the day-to-day challenge of thinking in a foreign language in almost everything I do; not only are lectures and tutorials in French, but simple activities such as grocery shopping, socializing and asking for directions all happen in this language. When I first arrived in France this was difficult, but now I can communicate fluently with native speakers in French, which is enormously fulfilling and rewarding. My hours spent in the library learning French grammar and vocabulary have paid off!

A typical day in France for me normally begins with a croissant from the bakery beside my flat, before beginning my 30-minute walk to lectures. On my walk, I enjoy views of traditional French architecture, walking over the river Rhône, and some fresh air before I begin my courses.

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A typical view of Lyon on my way to university

My French university, IEP Lyon, is very different to the University of Edinburgh. It has a small number of students (only 1,700), all classes are held in the same building and only politics is taught, compared to Edinburgh’s wide range of course options. My lectures normally begin at 10 am and last 2 hours. These are a challenge due to the language barrier, but, despite many preconceived ideas, most French students and professors are friendly, approachable and willing to help if I don’t understand something.

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My university in Lyon: ‘Institut d’Études Politiques de Lyon’ (IEP Lyon)

My typical afternoon is spent in the library preparing essays and going over lectures. There is a lot of work involved, as revising and writing in a different language often takes longer than in English. However, this gets easier over time, with a bit of practice and hard work.

I try to leave my evenings free from uni work to enjoy the French nightlife or go to the university running group. To make the most of my year abroad, I often go to international student events, where I meet lots of students from around the world. Meeting such a wide range of different people and learning about different cultures is one of my favorite parts of student life.

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