A Year in Paris: Travel Blog

A Year in Paris: Travel Blog

‘Bonjour, je suis étudiante Erasmus…’

Sitting in my one bedroom flat on the outskirts of Paris and wondering how I ever ended up here, I’ve finally made it. I’m on my year abroad. Rather than choosing to be a language assistant and risking working with a load of children running riot all day, I decided instead to study at a university in a French speaking country. Admittedly, that opened the door to the possibility of living in a country which I’d always wanted to visit, Canada, but I couldn’t deny the pull of the Erasmus grant which I would be entitled to if I studied at a university in the European Union, so I ended up in Paris.

Paris is one of those cities that everyone loves for different reasons. For me, it’s the history and the culture; the wide Haussmann boulevards and the tiny winding streets, the little coffee bars and the walks along the banks of the Seine. Before coming here I became completely convinced that I would be in heaven. Then I tried to enrol at my university.

A word of warning: NEVER complain to me about Moodle or SDS crashing or about your teachers turning up fifteen minutes late to an essay consultation. Over the past ten days, I have spent around seven hours queuing to sign up for modules. Whilst at Kent everything is done electronically – you pick your modules using the online course catalogue, then you go on SDS, tick the ones you want to take and submit your form – in France, you have to go to each separate faculty and sign up for the modules you wish to take from that faculty. Sounds simple enough until you take into account that hardly any of the offices have numbers on the doors, so you’re never quite sure you’re in the right place, then when you finally find the room, it’s midday and they’re closed for two hours for lunch or, in many cases, until 9am the next morning. I don’t know what these people are eating for their lunch that requires two hours or indeed the rest of the day, because I simply can’t make a pain au chocolat stretch that long.

Due to being majorly miserable for the first few days here and not settling in all that well, I’d arranged to head off to Normandy to see my parents for the weekend. When Thursday rolled around I was so excited, but even after 10 days of trying to enrol for my modules I wasn’t done. The enrolment process was hanging over my head like a black cloud, but I only had two more to do, so I got myself up to campus for 9am on Thursday morning. Having found the office I needed to be at, I immediately felt like throwing all of my toys out of my metaphorical pram when I saw a sign on the door saying ‘le bureau est fermé le jeudi matin et vendredi après midi’. Closed. Until 2pm. THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING AGAIN.

It’s worth noting before you get on your high horse and say I should’ve checked sooner, that I had been waiting in a queue for an hour and a half at this office two days earlier, only to be told that Erasmus students could not enrol until the Thursday and that the office was open ALL DAY. It seems that not even the staff know what on earth is going on. I just hoped that they know their courses better, if I ever managed to enrol on them.

Finally on Thursday afternoon, around three hours before I was due to get my train, I completed my timetable. Hello most of Monday, most of Thursday and all day Friday off! Don’t even talk to me about Tuesday and Wednesday though, French universities run classes from 8am to 10pm, and it’s looking like I’ll be experiencing every minute of them….

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  1. A Year in Paris #2: Travel Blog | InQuire Live
    December 5, 2023

    […] if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs (there’s only been one other before this so you really shouldn’t have got lost) you’ll know that I had an absolute nightmare […]

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