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So whilst Sydney Uni kids are now well into semester after the all too brief respite of the mid-sem break, for me several thousand kilometres away in a French city named Lyon, classes are just beginning. My classes are a rather interesting bunch, ranging from the Ottoman Empire, to French-English translation and the history of diplomacy, and are all somewhat terrifyingly taught in French. In a rather French twist, my classes also happen to take place in a building that was once a tobacco factory, and was converted into a university just a few decades ago. So far, I haven’t found the process of settling into a new university too difficult, as there is a kind of universality to the university experience. Regardless of where you study, you still have lectures, tutorials, exam weeks, stationery shopping, timetables, reading lists, coffee worship, frantic exam cramming, and a little too much alcohol. There is something comforting about all that. Although I have discovered that such things including being given a timetable before class starts, a simple online enrollment procedure, and faculty handbooks are a luxury in the university world. Let’s just say that if French university administrators went on sabbatical to an Australian university, much would be learnt, and much exchange student confusion could be spared.

On the non-university front, I have also mostly settled in to living by myself. With great pride I have now added (basic) cooking, cleaning , bill paying and clothes washing, and just generally being a grown up to my arsenal of things I can actually do. Also, living alone is quite nice, there is something quite soothing about it. Plus I now have a rather lovely circle of exchange friends from around the world to go on adventures with.

And of course, being in Europe, all academic duties pale into what feels like the number one goal, or indeed raison d’être of any European exchange student: to see as much of Europe as physically possible in six months, with the photographic evidence and endless anecdotes to prove it. So far I’ve only seen a great deal of Lyon and a nearby small picturesque town of sandstone, cobblestones and perfectly restored old-world French charm named Pérouges, so that’s my next great adventure.

Until next time,

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