Bonjour!! I would like to start by saying that I am having the best time of my life in Lyon, France, and that I eagerly recommend that students study abroad! There are so many reasons to participate in such a life-changing process, but for me the opportunity to learn a different language and a different culture is reason enough.
By the way, Lyon is so beautiful! The family I live with is very nice and I have had no problems with them. I live in downtown Lyon, near the River Rhône and "Place de Terraux." Living in France is very exciting, especially when you have the opportunity to live with a French family. They are wonderful people who have been helping me a lot with practicing my French!
I take the metro to school or to any place I go. The University of Lyon Jean Moulin 3 is a great school and there are many international students from around the world. All of my classes are in English except for French, of course. During the first two weeks, I took the French language course every day for 3 hours; however, now that school has started I only take it once a week along with my other classes. Lyon 3 is very different from UNCG mainly because classes meet only once a week. It's also different because our grade is based only on one final exam, unlike UNCG where you take tests almost every week. In my opinion it is very nice not to have to worry about a test every week!
I know that I want to speak more French. I actually came to Lyon without knowing any French, but as the days passed, I started to understand a little bit more. Now, I find myself having conversations with the French. For example, yesterday I had dinner with my French friends, and it was interesting to hear them talk...very fast. I need a lot of improvement, because I cannot talk in past or future tense, only in present. So it can be a difficult at times.
Most of my professors are French, but they speak English very well and talking with them has been easy. I also have a British professor who is very funny! Class is great, but the best part is being surrounded by students from around the world. I have met many international students, and it is amazing to hear them speak three or four languages. The other day, we had dinner at my Polish friend's house and each of us made a dish from our home country. The Austrians made Kartoffelsalat and Palatschinken. The Italians made pasta, the Spanish made Sangria, an Ecuadorian made Empanadas, the Irish made Shepherd's pie and apple pie. All of them speak English, but also their native languages, and some speak French very well.
The semester is very short and also with many Fridays off, I have had great opportunities to travel over the weekends! For example, I went to Marseille this past week, and I loved it! I never thought I would get to swim in the Mediterranean Sea or to see "Notre Dame de la Garde". I even got to see the Castle-Prison where "Le Comte de Monte-Cristo" took place. It was very close by and only took two hours by express train. Next week I will be traveling to Paris! I also bought tickets to go to Barcelona, Rome, and Germany! Now that I am in Europe, I will try to visit the six countries that border France. They’re not too far away and it is inexpensive to travel. There is no way I could have done so much traveling from the United States.
What more can I say? This is such a great experience and I am ecstatic that I chose to study abroad! All in all, I am truly enjoying France! This has been the best time of my life, and the most important opportunity that I will never forget.