Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

My name is Emily and I am a third student studying a Bachelor of Arts with a major in French and a minor in Anthropology and for my 4th semester I did a six month exchange at the Université Lumière Lyon 2, France. I studied a range of courses while on exchange, most including the French language, literature, history and culture. Furthermore, I ran workshops for French students to help them better their oral competences in English. Before semester started I also completed a two week preparation course (Pré-Rentrée Universitaire - PRUNE) which I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to undertake studies in another language and especially at Lyon 2. Although I had to pay for the course, it was indispensable in preparing myself for working on essays, orals, reports and presentations in French and in the French manner.

When it comes to the administrative side of things at Lyon II, be prepared for a challenge. There is no such thing as a course profile, an online sign-on system, or a simple way of finding out when and where your courses and exams will be held. That means that to find out information about a particular course you will have to go directly to the school or faculty that coordinates it or call them directly. This seems easy enough, but sometimes the schools are closed, on lunch break or on strike. But be persistent! Another thing that I can suggest is that before your semester starts – get organised! Write down all the information that you can find on the courses that you would like to do, its name, course code, the lecture’s name, school and year level. This will make your life a lot easier when it comes to enrolling!

Student skiing

While I was living in Lyon, I lived in a private student residence. This was great because I could study in a place of my own, with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Please be aware though, the minimum stay for a private residence is around 7 months. If you would like to stay for a shorter period (like I did) be prepared to pay extra.

In regards to getting started in Lyon here are my top three tips:

  1. Open a bank account! For this you will need to bring a copy of your VISA/Passport and proof that you’re residing in Lyon. That means either, a letter written by your residence, or a letter written by one of your flat mates, their identity card and a gas/electricity bill with their name on it.
  2. Open a mobile account! Do this with FREE Mobile, it’s the cheapest and best! For 20 euros a month you have unlimited calls, texts and Internet. To do this, go to their Internet site and follow the steps. You need to give your bank details to organise a direct debit.
  3. Get you GoCard equivalent – the Tecely. Take your student card, and a passport photo to a metro station in the city and they’ll take care of the rest. It’s 28 euros per month for unlimited use of the trams, buses and metros. This is essential for getting around safely and easily.

Student by river

If I could give one tip to anyone going to France, speak French!! This might seem evident, but believe me – I heard so many American and British students who continually spoke English. It was such a shame and although it is tempting in speak English, make the effort to speak in French! I made the choice that once I arrived in France I would only speak in French – this is the only way to get the most out of your learning experience and advance your French speaking abilities. After all, why come to France if you’re not going to speak French?!

Don’t forget to take the time to travel; there are so many beautiful locations in and around Lyon. Don’t be afraid to play the tourist! Get your camera out and enjoy! If you are wanting to go further than Lyon, you’ll be best off doing a covoiturage which is like organised, safe and cheap car pooling. Otherwise, get yourself a Carte Jeune from the SNCF, this gives you cheap trips by train all over France, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

This exchange was a fantastic experience and one that has broadened my personal and professional horizons. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to advance their foreign language skills, work overseas in the future or want to forge an unforgettable and life-changing experience!

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