My name is Salomé, I am French. I’m an exchange student in Hull. I’m from a small town in the South of France and life there is totally different from here. I’ve been here since January and before I leave I would like to tell you about the parts of life here you might not notice.
I’ve been very nervous about this experience before it even began. If you’ve been to France, you can probably tell we have quite a few differences between our two countries in our way of living. I have to admit it was quite hard when I first arrived in Hull as some parts of your daily life can be quite confusing to other people. Here are a few things that were hard to adapt to when I arrived in the U.K.
First of all, it is not a stereotype: We do have pain au chocolat and croissant at breakfast. When I first arrived I stayed in Hessle with my parents in a bed and breakfast and we were really excited for the English breakfast. It seemed very tasty and as soon as we started to eat we changed our mind, we can’t say we are big fans of bacon and baked beans in our family…so the second day we ended up ordering continental breakfast!
What surprised me the most was also when I arrived on the street I’m living, I live on Cranbrook. As I first walked down the street with my parents the first thing my dad said was “How can you, student find your way back home if you are drunk? all the houses look the same.” It really shocked us!
What was the most shocking to me was when I realised I only had 3 lectures per week. My school in France and here are the exact same price and you need to multiply the lectures hours we have in Hull by ten to have the amount I had in France. In January not knowing that many people, not having any hobbies or lectures to attend and with the sunsetting at 4pm, my first few weeks were very depressing.
I probably don’t need to tell you this one you surely guessed it already. I’m freaking out and confused each time I get on the bus or a car, I’m still not use to cars driving to the right side of the street.
By the way I am a typical French girl, this isn’t a stereotype either. We like food, I like food, and cheese and bread and wine. Please don’t laugh at me, I know it must seem ridiculous but there is so many things I love back in France that I cannot find here in the UK, and when I do find it, it’s overpriced. A few weeks ago I bought a cheese to make one of my favourite dish, £4 for 250g of cheese. I wish I was kidding. This has been quite overwhelming and I swear I did sometimes call my mom back in France asking her to mail me some typical French food because I couldn’t find it anywhere!
I did get used to a few things but this next thing I never did I probably never will. At home, with my family I am used to having dinner around 8-9pm. When I arrived and had a proper dinner for the first time with a British family I was very confused to be eating dinner at 5.
Us French have a stereotype for bread, wine and a beret right? Well in France at least yours is to have tea at regular times. I was confused to see you have dinner during the usual tea time and I was wondering if this tea time was a myth or not!
To return to the university life, would you believe me if I said to enter a uni society in France, just like HU Writers, you would need to have some kind of interview with the current team and they would only pick few people each semester to join them. It is very hard to get involved, this difference is what I enjoyed so much in Hull. I’ve joined a sport team since I arrived, every one has been so welcoming and within two weeks I was fully part of the team. I made a lot of friends and went back to one my hobbies in the process.
I made almost all of my friends in Hull through this team, and I train more than I have lectures per week to be honest. This team has made my life in Hull so much better, and I am forever thankful to all the people I met. Without them all this experience wouldn’t have been this good.
I felt homesick after the first few weeks, and quite a few times since then. That isn’t the funny part of going abroad for a long time, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this feeling. You can’t sleep, barely even eat and don’t do anything with your day.
Said like this it seems like I didn’t quite enjoy my time in Hull, but these are the main differences I’ve come across and been confused about. Believe me, I did otherwise enjoy Hull.
All these little things I tell you about, random things can make an entire environment overwhelming.
If I you want my advice before going abroad it’s to take care of yourself, get involved, try new things, experience life as much as possible but always stay true to yourself no matter what. As long as you are happy with the person you are becoming along the years you won’t regret it.
So, I’m leaving Hull tomorrow morning, I’m only coming back in January for my exams and after that I am off for some new adventures to some places else I don’t know where yet. It is most likely going to be London but I have planned to come back, if it is, and in the next few semesters travel a bit further away probably.
My mom used to tell me at the beginning of my studies, mostly before I arrived in Hull “Don’t forget where you come from, but never lose sight of where you are going”
I think it is a good way to summarise what I wanted to say today. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions about how I adapted to Hull or how is life in France or anything please feel free to ask me.”