Fran in France: Expectations vs. Reality

After three years of university I should be more than capable of handling introductions by now. Alas, alongside my deadline-meeting skills and my general fitness, I’ve yet to improve. My name’s Fran, I’m a third year history and French student who should currently be packing for my year abroad that starts on Monday! I’m unashamedly buzzing to go now. My final Lenton hurrah last week was a memorable one to say the least, between an Oceana foam party that made me feel like I should be collecting my pension sometime soon and a few emotional goodbyes. But still, a fresh start sounds amazing, and I think I’m ready for whatever is on the cards (probably don’t quote me on that). I’ve been lucky enough to have been placed in a beautiful town in the south east of France called Valence. 

From my cheeky Google image research it looks quaint without having that abandoned look and modern but with enough character to keep it interesting. My mum was born in the North East where most of my family have stayed, so I’m bracing myself for regional disparities. However I’m now convinced this can only be a good thing- another dozen cheeses I’ve yet to encounter.

Anyway, with just a weekend between myself and my first big move, I can’t help but compare my romantic thoughts of French living with that iconic scene in 500 Days of Summer.


Expectations: I'm cycling to the primary school I work at on an autumn's morning. The sun is shining, my beret matches my perfectly patriotic stripy top and the pastel coloured macaroons I've just bought from the friendly old lady who owns the local patisserie. My little thatch basket is bursting with perfectly completed marking and a jambon baguette made fresh this morning for my lunch. 

Reality: Without being horribly pessimistic (I will hopefully never need a vodka lime before teaching those cute little French kids) my mum has already warned me against "cycling in traffic" for fear of having a macaroon strewn pancake as a daughter. And in my last two years of living at university, despite my best intentions, I have never once gotten up early enough to make myself lunch for the day- it was either a cheese and cucumber sandwich or catching the last 34 before 9am.

Hollywood imagery aside, I’m so excited to start my year abroad on Monday. Those that have already had their year out can't seem to find the words to describe how refreshing the whole experience is – they’ve returned with an insane thirst for the culture, the people and travel in general. This excites me no end. Being the keen bean I am I hope to keep you all updated on my inevitable mishaps and experiences via the kind people at Her Campus- I promise that not a cheese or pastry will go unwritten. Accommodation somehow sorted, Flybe booked and Tetley teabags at the top of my suitcase, I finally feel set to face the reality of year abroad life! I may well be wearing a helmet in place of a cute beret and have pocketed a few euros to buy myself a casse-croûte at school, but I will be doing it eager to experience everything the year (and the regional cheeses) inevitably has to offer!

Edited by Nicole Jones.

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