“Going for a drink in the evening actually constituted ‘French practice’” a story by Arthur (video)
A story by Arthur
Country of origin: United Kingdom (England)
Country of destination: France (Savoy)
At UK universities, language students usually spend a year in a country of the language they study. I was no different, and so as part of my French degree in England, I spent a year studying at L’Université de Savoie, in Chambery, France. I was excited to have the opportunity to spend a year soaking up French culture, improving my French, and travelling around Europe!
I studied History, as well as several language/grammar/translation modules at the University, mixing with both French and fellow Erasmus students. Some modules were very difficult, others easier, but I that being immersed in French-speaking society had a profound effect on the quality of my spoken French. A particularly challenging moment in the classroom was when I was required to give a 25minute presentation, in French, on the causes of the First World War, in front of a class of French students. It’s these kinds of situations that help immeasurably with language acquisition though. I was under great pressure, but the French students gave me a hand with the preparation, and I learnt a great deal of vocabulary from my research.
My favourite memories, however, weren’t the lectures – they were the travels and experiences. Situated in the Alps, Chambery boasts numerous opportunities for hiking, swimming and snowsports. My summer was full of the former two, and winter, the latter. This is what I find so enriching about this experience: the fact that as long as French speakers surrounded me while I had fun, I could have as much fun as I liked. In the same way, going for a drink in the evening actually constituted ‘French practice’ if I found myself in an interesting French-language conversation.
I didn’t stay in France beyond my year studying in Chambery, but this was because I still had a final year to complete back at the university in England. I think that had I no obligation to return to England, I would have stayed on in Chambery for a further year or two. It’s a small city, which (in my opinion) meant that the locals were more approachable. Looking back on it, I consider Chambery as a home away from home, and I can’t wait to go back again soon. Being an Erasmus student was one of the best things I have ever done; I met amazing people, travelled all around an amazing country (and other parts of the continent) and most importantly improved my French significantly. I would recommend it to anyone!
Enjoy Arthur’s video of his experience in Chambery!