Hi all!

Today is Boxing Day and while most people will have had a pretty lazy day recovering from eating too much I had to get my act together to check off the final things on my to-do list as I leave for France tomorrow!

As part of Victoria University’s ‘VicOE’ exchange programme I am heading to France to spend a semester on exchange at Université Jean Moulin in Lyon. Lyon is France’s second biggest city with a population of around 1.5 million in the wider metropolitan area. It is located to the south-east of France, close to the Alps, and the Rhone and Saône rivers run through the middle of the city. Lyon is known primarily for being the gastronomic capital of France, so hopefully by the time I come back I will (finally) have expanded my rather tame palate.

Lyon
Lyon

I fly out of Wellington at 8:30pm on Thursday night and arrive in Lyon (via Auckland – Hong Kong – London) at 8:30pm on Friday, local time. I haven’t been sleeping too well recently due to the extreme heat in Wellington so the thought of all this flying is not exactly appealing! When I arrive it should be around 7 degrees which is much more my kind of climate. Lyon gets very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer so that will take some getting used to.

After I arrive in Lyon I have around 3 weeks before uni starts, with a registration day/French test on the 16th of January, and regular classes beginning on the 21st. I’m getting there nice and early so I can find somewhere to live! This is quite unusual as most people stay in residences which the university organises for you but the overwhelming advice from past exchange students and French people alike is that these residences are nothing like the halls in NZ; they’re extremely antisocial and no-one really talks to each other. This isn’t much use for someone wanting to improve their language skills! So I’m taking the plunge and looking for a flat once I get over there, hence giving myself plenty of time. I’m staying in a hotel for a week or so and then, assuming I’m still homeless, will be stying with my friend Léa who I met while at school in Remiremont in 2009, who is also living in Lyon for uni.

As for what I’ll actually be doing at uni, I don’t completely know yet as the humanities courses still haven’t been updated for the semester when I’m going to be there! I am pretty flexible with the courses I can do, as even if I don’t manage to get credit for any of my majors I will still be able to finish all my requirements in the semester when I get back. Going by last year’s course catalogue I will probably be doing a mixture of art history, history and literature, but I would also like to do some completely random papers that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise.

The university semester finishes on the 25th of May; possibly earlier depending on my exam timetable. I already have travel through Eastern Europe and Italy and a return via New York with my mum booked in, and will hopefully be adding to the list once I do some proper budgeting. I thought I might as well make the most of it and knock as many places off while I can! Lyon is really well situated to access the rest of Europe by train and I also have friends on exchange in Spain and the UK so will hopefully be able to visit them too, as well as exploring the rest of France. It should make for some more interesting blog posts down the track!

I guess that’s enough of en epic to leave you with for now. I’m not sure how often I’ll be blogging but I’ll do my best to keep you all up to date with my aventures lyonnaises (Lyon adventures), especially when something particularly noteworthy happens. Feel free to leave comments etc to make me feel loved :)

A la prochaine,

Catherine

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