Points of view: exchange students on Edinburgh

Bonjour tout le monde, as we say in France, nice to meet you. I am a third year Foreign Languages and Social Sciences student from Grenoble, a lovely city situated near the Alps and I have been given the opportunity to move here  thanks to the Erasmus programme. This year abroad – which is supposed to be the “time of my life” – has indeed started well, I admit! I was absolutely petrified at the idea of leaving my hometown, family, habits and friends behind, but after a harsh few couple of days, I’m doing great.

I still don’t think that my friends at home understand why I chose to come to Scotland or Edinburgh for my year abroad. “Why’s that?” you may be wondering. Well, because whilst almost everybody chose to go to sunny Spain, I made the choice to go to ‘drizzle-land’ and they mocked my incomprehensible ways. But “guess what ?” I said to them, “firstly, the weather is not as bad as we imagine it to be in France. Secondly, there is a beach in Edinburgh and, last but not least, this is the city where the Harry Potter  novels were born – What’s not to like?”

Ok, enough with the Harry Potter thing, but you must admit that it is a pretty good argument. In all seriousness, the basis of my reasoning derived from my fondness for the English language, as far as I remember.

So I left my home and relatives and arrived in Edinburgh, amazed by its history, monuments, streets, shops and university buildings. I also quickly came to encounter the first Scottish accents I’d come across, which turn out to be absolutely understandable to me, as long as the person I am talking to doesn’t come from Glasgow – I apologise but you have to understand: I am a poor little foreign student already struggling in conversation, accents aside. Since then, I have gradually discovered other parts of Scottish culture and, in case you are asking, no I haven’t tasted Haggis yet. Talking about food, one question: where is all the cheese? I know it must sound like a cliché but this is one of the things I miss the most.

Apart from discovering real beer, new accents and new faces, I had to adapt myself to life in a student residence, which I had never experienced before. Good news, it’s been three weeks and I’m still alive.

Also, through residence life, I was able to witness first hand just how important Fresher’s Week is taken in the UK, with all the different events and parties designed to help new students to take their first steps into university life. Trust me freshers, you are very lucky. Students don’t really have that in France, most universities just have an ‘Integration Party’  or perhaps an ‘Integration Weekend’. It just doesn’t compare! Classes are different here too, the teachers seem a bit more accessible and clearly asked to be called by their first name which is unbelievable for me. This also came as a big surprise to Marion, a French student that I interviewed, and I agree with her view that : “I had never seen so few student in tutorials!”

Eventually, I am sure that this experience abroad will later on be qualified as ‘the time of my life’, so I am appreciating every single moment in Edinburgh and hope that this city and its people will have many surprises in store for me.

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