A few weeks ago, I was teaching a class about the delights (or lack of them) of English cuisine, this then led to a discussion on different types of gastronomy, Chinese, Italian, Thai. To finish the lesson I asked them, 'if I gave you a hundred euros and the choice to go to ANY restaurant in the whole of Paris, what type of cuisine would you choose?' To my surprise, 90% of them said French.
It has come to my attention that as I am finishing my Year Abroad, many of you will be embarking upon yours. Be prepared for a crazy year, full of incredibly good times, new friends and amazing experiences. However it will also be one of the most challenging years you’ve ever had. So I’ve decided to put together a little dummy’s guide, with helpful tips on the things I found the most difficult during my work placement in Paris and Erasmus semester in Rome.
I always knew Erasmus was going to be mad. But I didn’t quite expect the events of the last few weeks. After the initial stress of moving all my stuff over and realising I had in fact forgotten the last two years of Italian teaching at Bath and was now back to “errr, posso errr avere una *shit what’s the word for stamp* por favour”. Nevertheless I grew some balls, got sorted at uni with an exciting time table of French theatre and Italian journalism and started to really get stuck in. It was when my Italian lecturer added me as a friend on Facebook that I first knew things were going to be a bit different here. Since then we’ve had transport strikes, power cuts, successions of praying Italians chanting down our street and of course have been beeped at walking down the street by anything from policemen to bus drivers.
In all honesty, there will be times on your Year Abroad where you just want to curl up in a ball and teleport back to your nice comfy bed back home. There will be times when you find yourself hastily searching for flights, trains, ferries, Eurostars, anything to take you back home, to somewhere where you feel secure, organised, in control and, above all, at home. There will be times where you consider emailing your university and saying look, I just can’t do this (you can, by the way!). Finally, there will be times when you doubt your progress.
So up until now, I’ve been extremely pleasant about my new location but now I feel it’s time to rant about the darker side of Paris. Although the city itself is undisputedly romantic, full of couples staring into each other's eyes and reading poetry to each other in the gardens, for the young single girl the reality is not so sweet.
After a fabulously loved up pit stop in England between the two halves of my year abroad, I have set sail (or flight) to the lovely city of Rome. The second half of my year will be spent here in the Italian capital where I am embarking on an Erasmus exchange at the unbelievably disorganised Roman university, La Sapienza.