Lilia Almanza
Nov 15, 2022

Starting out life in Bordeaux : International student glasses

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3 min read

Throughout the journey of this post I will share with you some of great excitements and challenges that came along with my first few days in France. More specifically Bordeaux, a city that with hindsight I can now safely call home.

bordeaux france city center

Why Bordeaux?

Originally from Nicaragua, I wanted to pursue my studies in France since I started learning French at about 14 years old. At that age the continent of Europe seemed so far away to me...unreachable, but during the pandemic I went through a period of self-growth and decided to take a hands-on approach to my life.

After doing research on the different French cities and educational programs for a couple of months, I decided to apply to the Université de Bordeaux and got accepted in a 2nd year master's program. I chose the program as it was composed of small classes with all international students. This suited me perfectly as I was looking for a program that would give me the opportunity to enter into unfamiliar environments with people that had backgrounds different to mine.

My AMS to BOD flight, chaos

Coming from Central America I had a long flight and multiple connections guaranteed, all safe and sound until my last connection from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. As you might have seen in social media, airports in Europe where quite saturated during summer, and I was flying in at the tail end of summer. To make my long story short I missed my connection due to a long queue and was re-booked into the next flight which was several hours later, no biggie, I had time to grab a coffee, a book, finish a series and prepare mentally for what was coming to me this next year.

First few days in Bordeaux

Finally, after about 20 hours of travel I arrived to Bordeaux at midnight and I found myself in a strange dreamlike state, at arrival I went straight to my hotel for the night and it took a while for the feeling of new life to sink in. The next morning I was getting the feeling of being just in transit in my body, not fully living in it.

I decided that this was a normal state of being after moving continents and being completely alone for the first time. This feeling passed after the first couple of days.

a street in bordeaux france

I started my first few days by walking everywhere and using public transport, not really with an aim in mind but to feel familiar with the new streets I was now inhabiting. Personally I enjoy not having a plan, so wandering around is the best way to get to know a new place for me. I found some awesome thrift shops which I made sure to notate to revisit later. Also, being vegan I was able to scan and notice more than a couple vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes, which I also visited later once I made friends weeks after my arrival.

fontaine des girondins in bordeaux france

Finding a place to live in Bordeaux

I was lucky enough to find an apartment close to my university prior arriving to France, this was my main source of stress a few months before my arrival as I know that Bordeaux is a battle field in terms of accommodation. Even if I knew I had a place already set, it took me a while to make it my own space.

Part of the firsts days of my arrival I spent going to shops and looking online through Facebook marketplace for stuff to furnish and decorate my new home. I love buying second hand as you can give a new life to loved objects.

sunset in bordeaux

Although arriving to a new place by myself felt initially exciting then as the days got closer it felt more daunting, I had a deep feeling it was gonna be alright. Moving to France was a childhood dream that was finally gonna come to fruition. Most of the times I am unsure of what to do in life, I choose to do what I find enjoyable and makes living feel a tad bit exciting.

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