An Interview With... A Year Abroader

Currently on her year abroad as part of her Durham undergrad degree, Beatrice tells Her Campus all about her experiences working and living in France.

Allons-y!  So what are you up to at the moment?

I’m currently in Tours, France, working as a language assistant teaching English in two secondary schools. I’ve been here since October and I leave in two weeks which makes me very sad!

How do you feel your language skills are coming along?

My French has improved so much.  It took quite a bit of time but I can really notice a change now.  I’ve been doing a class at the university to help with this as I do find there aren’t always opportunities to speak that much French.  Overall my language skills have most certainly improved.

And what about the cultural side?  Have you hung out with Durham people, or mixed with locals, or both?!

Both!  Most of my friends are the other English language assistants who have also come over from Britain and America, and this group includes a fellow Durhamer!  I’ve managed to make a few Spanish, Italian and French friends too from the class I do at the university. 

What’s been your favourite memory so far and why?

This is hard!  I can’t pinpoint one specific moment but it would probably be a time in November when I started to feel like everything was coming together and I knew I was going to have an awesome year; I was starting to make great friends, settle in and really enjoying the job!

Have you had any low points?

Definitely!  I won’t lie – I found the experience incredibly difficult at the beginning as I didn’t realise how tough it would be to find somewhere to live, to adapt to the lifestyle, to get my rusty French up to scratch and become confident in the job.  However, I think it is this challenge which has made the experience so rewarding.  I still have occasional low points now if I’m missing my family or if a lesson goes badly!

Do you feel you have changed as a person at all? (Don’t worry if you’ve not found yourself…!)

As cliché as it is, I do think I’ve grown a lot in confidence and grown up, partly because I’ve had no other choice but to do so.  I wouldn’t say I’ve had any major changes, however.

Now for the future – what are your plans for the rest of your year abroad?

I just study French from the Modern Languages department so I’m going to spend some time at home over summer and then go to France or (fingers crossed) Quebec for a month or so to do some language classes.

Do you think you’ll be ready to head back to uni in October?!

I can’t wait to head back and get my head stuck into studying!  I think it will feel very surreal at first and might take some getting used to but I’m very excited for final year.

And finally for all the language lovers out there – give us a quirky little foreign word or phrase that you particularly like! 

It would probably have to be ‘revenons à nos moutons’.  It literally translates as ‘let’s return to our sheep’ but means ‘let’s get back to work’.  I think this is quite quirky and it’s certainly been useful in the classroom!