The phrase ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ is all too relevant for Erasmus students.
Whether you were nervous or excited before you set off, 3, 6, or even 9 months can feel like days when you’re living abroad. It’s no wonder leavingfrom Erasmus is more difficult than leaving for Erasmus.
Regardless of whether you’ll be working, studying or teaching, read Spotahome’s tips for how to make the most of your Erasmus year in France…
There’s more to France than Paris, c’est sûr!
1. Make it ayear abroad — build your CV
Despite being called your year abroad, Erasmus is normally just 1 or 2 semesters long. Have you thought about what you will be doing during the summers before and after?
Whether you like it or not, employers prefer candidates with professional experience. You’ll get bonus points if you’ve worked abroad, so why not look for an internship in France for the summer holidays?
Work for a startup – Much more fun, and much better for you.
A brand new company may not carry the prestige of a large, well-established corporation, but by working for a startup, you’ll learn about more than just making coffee and using a photocopy machine.
As part of a startup company, you’ll gain experience in several fields, be part of a company’s growth, and feel like you’ve made a difference. Not to mention the parties…
Not sure where to look? Try these sites:
2. Travel — Do something for yourself
It’s important, but life isn’t all about your CV. France is in the centre of Europe, and from here you can get to most other countries in a matter of hours. If you’re from another continent, make the most of your study visa and see as much of Europe as you can…
Travelling isn’t only about seeing new places, but it’s also a real opportunity to get to know new people… If you haven’t already, try BlaBlaCar. You can save money, practise French, discover new music, and hear some stories that you wouldn’t hear on the bus…
Explore France’s hidden coastal towns — go camping in Cassis!
If you want to stay with locals, try Couchsurfing. Staying at someone’s house for free sounds great, but it’s not all about saving money. Couchsurfing is a cultural exchange — your host may cook you local dishes, give you a tour of the town, and they may even become a friend for life.
Public transport is often the quickest way to get from A to B. It can be expensive though, so save money by using Kelbillet. This platform displays the cheapest options for planes, buses and trains, and it’s a great way to sell or buy unwanted tickets…
Visit Nice for a fun break in the sun
3. It’s all about public holidays
You can see public holidays as an extra day in bed, or you can see them as opportunities for exploration. Not only are they synonymous with long weekends, but they are also an excuse to experience some of France’s best festivals. The list is almost endless, but here are our top 3:
Fête de la Musique
– Every year on the 21st of June, the streets throughout France are filled with musicians of all abilities who play for FREE.
Nuit Blanche – This festival translates to Sleepless Night in English, and that’s exactly what Nuit Blancheis. On the first Saturday in October, this art and culture-filled carnival takes place from 7pm–7am all over Paris — can you think of a better way to kick off your Erasmus year?
Hôtel de Ville during Paris’s Nuit Blanche festivities
- Fête des Lumières– The dazzling Festival of Lights takes place from the 5th—8th of December every year in Lyon. The population of the city triples in size during the weekend, and the façades of most buildings are covered with spectacular light projections.
4. How to make the most of your Erasmus year in France — try to do 1 French thing per day
There’s no point in living in France unless you embrace everything French. Try to do 1 French activity per day, and you’ll understand why the culture is so celebrated. Whether you eat a croissant for breakfast, hunt for bargains in a market, or go to a French concert, you’ll be feeling Français before you know it.
Make the most of your Erasmus year in France
5. Challenge yourself – can you return home with more money than you left with?
It may seem ridiculous, but it’s possible to finish your year abroad with more money than you started with.
Teaching private classes, or cours particuliers, is a great way to earn at least €15 per hour for just talking in English. Best of all, you don’t really need any qualifications.
Have you considered bartending or waiting? It’s guaranteed that wherever you live, you’ll be within close proximity to several Irish pubs. It’s not always compulsory to know French to work in one, but by the end of the first month your language skills will have quadrupled – it’s one of the best ways to learn French.
Make the most of your Erasmus year in France — work in a café or bar
- Apply for the CAF. Despite the process taking a million years to organise, applying for the Caisses D’allocations Familiale could save you a decent amount of money on rent.
6. Hang out with locals
- If you can’t live with French people (you really should try), there are hundreds of different ways to make friends in France.
Volunteer – Volunteering can be hard to come by, but once you find it, you’ll be able to meet French people whilst working for a good cause … what could be better?
Don’t be shy — Strike up a conversation with a local, but do so in French. Ask someone for a pen during class or speak to someone in the line of a supermarket — they’ll appreciate the effort, and the more you try, the more confidence you’ll have…
The French love sociable dinners — the sooner you make friends with locals, the sooner you’ll understand why!
7. Don’t lose your patience
France is not celebrated for its bureaucracy, queues or university system efficiency, but if you learn to live with it, you’ll see that this is part of the country’s charm. Here are 3 situations that you may just have to overcome:
Your university class may be so oversubscribed that you might not have a seat.
The French love to go on strike, but this is because France values the rights of the worker — if something’s not right, people like to do something about it…
People don’t always care about how long you’ve waited in the queue; they want to be first. Sometimes you really need to know how to use your elbows…
If you enjoyed this blog post, here are some more that you might like:
- 10 things I learned while living in Paris as an Erasmus student
- Spotahome guide: Moving to France
- A guide to housing in Paris
- Top 5 Terraces and Rooftops of Lyon