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HC Abroad: Goodbye New York, Hello France!

Hello, Collegiettes™! As the summer winds down, it’s time for me to say “goodbye” to New York City and “hello” to my upcoming year in Lyon, France.
 

New York, you may not be for everyone, but these 8 weeks have been a whirlwind. I have loved your rush hour crowds on the subways (and opting to take the next, less-crowded, train), your honking streets, your fast pace. I love your grunge and the sounds of your streets. I have a feeling I will be meeting you again, so for now I’ll just say, “see you later.” As I’ve written before, I never like goodbyes anyways.
 
Treating my time in New York like I would a study abroad experience was the best thing I could have done. I feel like I have fully taken advantage of my time here, even while working a 9-5! If you want to live in your city with “study abroad” gusto, here are my two cents:
 
1) Make a “bucket list”
 
Read through guidebooks (sitting in Barnes and Noble for an hour never hurts) and search the Internet to find the must-sees of your city. Make a list, big or small. I put a sticky note for everything I wanted to do in New York on my left closet door. As I ticked the sites off my list, I moved the respective sticky to the right door.
 
2) Budget your time
 
You might have twenty items on your “bucket list,” but don’t let it overwhelm you. Set aside two hours here and there (keeping in mind how long the transportation will take), and you’ll be crossing activities off your list with no stress. When I live in DC for school, I find it easiest to make time for exploration on the weekends.  Get up and go somewhere on Saturday mornings, and enlist a friend!
 

Lyon is supposedly a completely different atmosphere than New York. A friend of mine who studied there last year describes it as, “a place you’d want to raise your kids.” People take walks on Sundays—and practically no shops are open. As much as I loved the fast pace of New York, a big part of me is looking forward to the peace and quiet of a city with a different vibe. Living in two polemic atmospheres in such as short time will undoubtedly help me determine which I prefer!
 
My study abroad program in Lyon is a direct matriculation into l’Université Lyon-III. It’s a public university, as all are in France (fun fact: private institutions are legally not allowed to give diplomas). I will be taking mainly French literature classes, where I will be in classes with students who, after graduation, will take a test to become certified lit teachers.
 
My program at Lyon-III is a yearlong study abroad, which I hear has pros and cons, just like any other program. I can’t tell you how much joy I get from speaking a foreign language, so I knew the year abroad was the perfect option for me. Besides, I’m not sure if I’ll have the opportunity to live abroad for a very long time, so I’m going to seize my chance.
 
The French college experience is a lot different than that of the States, which I’m sure I’ll be explaining as I figure out the differences. On one hand, there are no dorms. Instead, the French students live at home. I’m not sure yet how exactly this will affect the school experience, but I’ll be sure to report back on that! For this reason, I will be living with a host family, which I’m really excited about. We’ve been emailing back and forth this summer (in French!) and I think I will be very happy with them.
 
Another striking dissimilarity is the class choice. If you are a French literature major in your first-year, you walk in to the Registrar’s equivalent and are handed a piece of paper with your class schedule. You will go to all these classes with the other French lit majors in their first year, and you will take your classes with these very people until you graduate. Because I am an exchange student, I still have the opportunity to select my classes from all those offered at the university—lucky me!
 
Now that I’ve packed up my suitcases full of professional clothes from New York, I am starting to think about my clothing choices for Lyon. My next post will tell you all about my “wonderful” packing tips (you would think that moving cross country twice a year for school would have made me an expert by now, but alas, that is not the case). A tout à l’heure! See you later! 

Kylie Sago is a junior at Georgetown University, where she studies English, French, and Spanish. She loves finding reasons to explore new places--studying over the summer in Florence, interning at Good Housekeeping magazine in NYC, and studying abroad for a year in Lyon. In France you can find her sitting in sidewalk cafés, blogging while pretending not to speak English.
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