Lauren O'Sullivan
Nov 3, 2022

My Erasmus in Lyon

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6 min read

My name is Lauren, I am twenty one years old and I have never moved out of home until now. Throughout my high school years I really wanted to travel. When picking a college degree , travelling heavily impacted my decision. I study International Business with French in Munster Technological University in Cork, Ireland. Currently in Ireland there is a housing crisis. Due to the ever increasing prices of housing and rent it’s very hard to move out of your family home. I thought Erasmus would be a perfect chance to experience living in my own little home, considering I won’t experience it back in Ireland until I am around forty.

Back in March 2022, I was selected to go on an International Exchange to Lyon. For one week I would be staying with another French student and attend classes. I would be immersed in the French student life. This week was amazing. I was able to see how my potential college on Erasmus looked and existentially ran. I made a friend for life with the girl I was staying with. When it came to choosing what city in France to study in, I chose in a heart beat. I was meant to be in Lyon. I knew what the city was like and I already made a few friends that would help me along the way.

On the First of September I finally made my way to Lyon. My flight from Ireland was in the capital Dublin. This airport is at least a three hour drive away from my home town. It was a very long and tiring journey, both emotionally and physically. It was my first time ever leaving my family. I was beyond scared because I rely on my mother so much. I was also worried about my cooking situation. In my opinion, my mother is the best cook. No one can beat her home cooked dinners. Leaving home meant I had to fend for myself and make sure I didn’t give myself food poisoning in the process. Here is a picture of my friends and I at the airport waiting for our flight! I am the one on the right with the glasses.

My first day was hectic. It felt surreal touching down in Lyon airport. I was finally doing it. I got a taxi to my accommodation. I had to lug all my bags to the office to sign in and get my keys, that was a workout in itself. Unfortunately since I had not spoken French since college back in May it was really a struggle to communicate with the admin in the office. What should of took fifteen minutes ended up taking over two hours. I was also conscious of the time as I had a job interview in the afternoon. So I got my keys to my apartment and rushed to get ready. I didn’t get the chance to fully look at the place over the scramble to get myself ready for the interview. Nonetheless, I got myself on the tram and made my way to the interview. The interview went great, I was fully of nerves and I had a few anxious moments but I got the job! I then went to meet my college friends who I travelled with to do shopping. My bank account really got hit. I had to buy everything as my apartment was not furnished. Once I came home, I put everything into it’s place. However, when I was on my own it was when the immense home sickness really struck me. I was inconsolable with tears. I was like a child wanting their mother. It was really tough for me.

In the following days after were really a learning process for me. I had never lived alone. This took some time to understand. I had to get to know myself all over again. I threw myself into new hobbies like journalling my days and practicing gratitude. I had to create a routine for myself so I didn’t just waste away in my bed doing nothing all day. But most of all I wanted to make the most of my time in Lyon.

I love sports. Back home in Ireland I was always playing sports or attending the gym. In Ireland we have our own national sport called Gaelic Football. So one day, I decided to search on the internet to see if I could find a Gaelic Football team in Lyon. To my absolute surprise and delight, I found one. This brought me a sense of home. I arrived in Lyon on the first of September which was a Thursday and the following Monday I attended my first training session. I had to take a tram, metro and a bus to get there. But I was too excited to meet new people and play the game to care about how long of a journey it took me. The training was fully in French. Not only do I get the benefit of exercising, but I also get a chance to improve my French. I met some great people, both Irish and French. I believe to this day that if it wasn’t for that Gaelic Football team I would of went back home to Ireland. It brings me a sense of joy every Monday. It is also a great way to meet more people on Erasmus! I met a few people from different universities and it was a good way to get to know them.

I was in Lyon nineteen days before college started. I worked the weekends in a hotel to pass away time and earn money. This was also a great way to improve my French as I had to communicate with my work mates. The weather was absolutely beautiful. It was ranging from twenty five degree Celsius to over thirty! I couldn’t believe it. In a sense, I felt like I was on my holidays before college started. We got to visit Vieux Lyon. In my opinion this is the prettiest town I have ever seen in my life. The architecture is breath taking. From the terracotta roofs to the cobble stone footpaths. There is such a distinct contrast to the buildings at home. Fourviere is also an amazing basilica which can be seen nearly everywhere in central Lyon. It was so perfectly created and has such brilliant details within the church. It’s so rich in history and culture.

I also went to an antique market that was only a twenty minute walk from my house. I found this to be riveting. I was able to piece together stories of Lyon through people’s old belongings. Seeing the different type of army uniform to the different types of art that dated back to the renaissance.

Finally after nineteen days, my first day of college arrived. I felt like I was five years old again starting my school experience. I was very nervous but also beyond excited to meet my classmates and teachers. I made sure that I was dressed in my finest clothes. Whilst I was walking to college I realised I left a very important Erasmus form back at home. I was struck with panic. I had to be at the admin office at a set time . I was going to miss my time slot if I went back home. However when I got to college there was a long line of people in before me. One of the perks of living near the college was that I sprinted back home to get my certificate. I made it back to the college in no time, the certificate in my hand and I am sure there was a bit of sweat on my face too. The first week of college flew. Unfortunately, I got let go from my job in the hotel. This was due to the fact that I was scheduled to work Friday to Sunday but I had classes scheduled on Friday that I couldn’t miss. I was sad I couldn’t work out a different arrange to keep the job but I took it as a sign to have my weekends to explore.

One thing that I really have to touch on is the food in Lyon. I got the delight in trying a French Taco. Now these tacos are not like the Mexican tacos. A French taco is a tortilla wrap filled with fries and any other fillings you could imagine. It is folded up and then pushed down on what I would call a panini maker – it’s essentially a machine that grills the wrap when you push down the handle. This is the ultimate comfort food. I take delight in ordering one and eating it. It’s like a hug it’s that comforting. I know for a fact I will miss these when I return home after the year of living here.

If I was to summarize my first few weeks in Lyon I would say that it was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was surfing the waves of emotions each day. However, the homesickness faded and the desire to immerse myself in France was increasing. I started to pick up slang as the days went on. I feel like I am started to become acclimatized to this lifestyle. It’s my Erasmus journey and I intend to make the most out of it.

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