Living away from home is something I’m used to by now, having lived on my own last year for 2nd year. However living abroad is something that, honestly, terrified me. I was used to being alone but knowing my parents and family were never more than a 20 minute drive away from me.Now my closest relative is about 1000Km away from me!!
Naturally, saying goodbye was difficult. I had a big night out with most of my friends about a week before going and had drinks the night before I left with a friend of mine who’s now down in Perpignan for the year. That wasn’t too difficult to be honest, not as much as saying goodbye to family. Saying goodbye to my sister was probably the hardest because she left on a camping holiday a week and a half before I actually left so I never got to see her just before flying off!
Saying goodbye to my parents was obviously the hardest part. I had to say goodbye to my mum in Dublin Airport which was difficult, but because I was the one leaving it didn’t feel much different from saying goodbye to go on a holiday with friends for a week…at that stage it still hadn’t sunk in that I wasn’t going to be back in Ireland again until at least Christmas!! Saying goodbye to my dad I found really tough, though. He flew over here with me and because HE was the one leaving it was much harder. I suddenly found myself completely alone in a foreign city, country and language, as the 5 other lads who came with me weren’t to arrive for another 3 days.
That said, keeping in touch has been extremely easy, and having almost non-stop work and college since being here has kept my mind off the fact that everyone’s so far away. FaceTime and Skype have made it a lot easier because they allow you to SEE the people you’re talking to as if they were in the room with you, despite them being half a continent away!
Arriving in Montpellier felt more like arriving at a summer holiday resort than arriving to my new home city. At 12am on arrival it was 26 degrees!! Back in May, just after finding out I’d be coming to Montpellier for the year, I came over for a few days to have a look around the place, get a general idea of how the city was laid out, and find all the important locations like the college, the airport and my apartment building. So having already been here once before I already knew what to expect when I came back for good. However I still remember all of my first impressions of the place even though it was months ago.
My first impressions of the city itself were that it was extremely different to other French cities I’d been to before. Being on the Mediterranean coast it comes off as more of a Spanish-style city than a French one; resembling more Barcelona or Alicante than Paris or Strasbourg. It’s an absolutely beautiful city. I’ve sent along some pictures with this blog of the scenery so you can get a taste of it.
I also visited the college while I was here in May and my first impression of that is that it was completely different to what I’m used to in DCU back home. It’s technically not even a college: it’s a “Business School”. Meaning it’s a 3rd level institute but it ONLY teaches business and Languages. As such it’s quite a lot smaller than DCU. To me personally it was more like walking into DIT Cahal Brugha St. It’s quite the same sort of set up. That said it’s still a really nice college, everything’s easy to locate, and the food is cheap in the cafeteria!!
The language barrier thing has been a slight struggle for all of us since arriving. At home we’re only taught to read and write French, not really to speak it. So while we can understand the majority of what people are saying to us, and we can understand things written in French; we’re still struggling a little bit to reply to people, as speaking French is still very difficult to us. There are a lot of students here from Central Europe, South America and Asia who can all speak very good English and French because they are taught differently in those countries, but they all seem to struggle with the reading and writing of French; so there’s a fair balance of abilities between all the international students here.
To finish off: I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I love the city, the college, the weather (obviously), the people and the apartment building I’m living in!
In my next entry I’ll tell you more about the college: what the course is about, what the people are like, and what the classes and workload is like!