The terms “Erasmus” or “year abroad” have various associations. There’s the idea that your only real involvement in the culture is by socialising in the town, yet there are also the terrifying tales (often recited by your lecturers…) about those mysterious students who somehow failed all of their exams and ultimately were left without the elusive “international” degree certificate.
Before embarking on Erasmus, I was rather clueless about how my days would actually be spent in Lyon. I was vaguely aware that it was the capital of French food (which obviously played a role in my Erasmus city selection…) but despite many Google searches, I was still baffled as to what I would actually do there.
Here is a typical day for me. I spent my Erasmus year in the wonderful city of Lyon, and therefore my experience may be rather different from those in smaller cities or towns.
I lived on the outskirts of the city. Depending on the weather (or my level of motivation…) I would usually take either the metro or cycle to university. Cycling would take me around twenty minutes, where the metro may have taken me around ten or fifteen.
Classes began at 8am- and even more horrifically, some of these were COMPULSORY. I genuinely wondered if that was even legal. As some of these 8am classes were special French grammar classes for Erasmus students, we had to make presentations in French to the class. This made me temporarily consider dropping out of Erasmus. However, I survived and can attribute my relevance confidence in giving presentations nowadays to those 8am presentations en francais- merci Dieu!.
Breakfast would usually (shamefully) consist of a croissant or two grabbed on the way to class. The majority of my classes lasted for two hours so this energy burst was somewhat justified. Ahem.
My timetable was somewhat generous and I was lucky enough to be free a lot of afternoons. Nonetheless, I would normally go for déjeuner with my friends. (I can safely swear to the EU that the EU grand was 100% pumped back into the local economy…sigh).
Evenings were glorious. In general, I did find that the French were significantly more sociable than ourselves when it comes to post-work socialising. While the weather certainly has a bearing on this- many people choose to socialise along the rivers and in pub terraces after work- I don’t think it is the only factor as the French did seem to emerge to socialise just as often after work in Winter months.
The large Irish community in Lyon played a role in much of my evening activities- between training (confession: I was a rather “fair weathered” footballer and often skipped it in times of poor weather) and fundraising (we often fundraised for the club by holding book/ cake sales in Irish bars in the city) I did spend a lot of time with my fellow irlandais on the evenings and weekends.
The “Erasmus Student Network” also organised many soirées and weekends away for Erasmus students. This is a particularly great opportunity to meet new people if you arrived alone- n’ayez pas peur!
Lyon’s excellent location lends itself to many weekend travelling opportunities- you can read about these here. Otherwise, there are lots of weekend activities in the weekend itself, many of which are free- for example visiting the free zoo in the Parc De la Tete D’or (the largest park in France).
Sundays are a day of rest in France. Most supermarkets closed at 12pm and a morning visit to the market is a must. Here, you’ll find the freshest organic food for a fair price. I’m still dreaming about the cheese stall….