My year abroad: The one with the first day in France

Posted on: 10 March 2020 by Emily Holtom in 2020 posts

The Penny Lane bar in Rennes, modelled after Liverpool's Cavern Club

The day of my departure, I arrived at Birmingham Airport with far too much time to spare as usual (thanks mum). So after some weepy goodbyes and a Prêt A Manger baguette (very appropriate), the nerves were very quickly overtaken by a bit of airport boredom. Not the worst thing in the world, believe me, considering the adventure I was about to embark on.

The flight took me to the closest big city, Nantes, where next I hopped into a taxi that took me to the station. Never had I ever dreamed that the first French conversation I would have would be about Peaky Blinders, but throw together a very talkative driver and a nervous Brummie and here we are. A bit of over-planning meant I was nearly 2 and a half hours early for the train I had originally booked, but the idea of standing there with 2 heavy suitcases for that amount of time did not appeal to me. So another €7 later I was on a train heading for Rennes.

After a final quick metro ride, I arrived in Villejean, the home of the university and the nearest stop to my hotel. A hotel which also just so happened to be 2 minutes away from the height of French cuisine – McDonalds. Dinner sorted.

It's only natural that you might shed a tear when you move away, particularly if you’ve been living at home through university. It’s a whole new chapter of your life, and an experience unlike anything you’ll ever do. I can say this with confidence, because I know. And because I’ve lived it.

I took it slow to start with, found the campus and had a nose around some of the buildings in which I’d later be spending a lot of time. The concrete forest (it’s not quite big enough to be called a jungle) has been decorated with bits of street art and the occasional splash of colour from a flowerbed, which made the new territory a little less intimidating. And as the French students hadn’t actually arrived yet, I had a bit of time to my English self to get my bearings.

Library, check. Dance studio, check. Supermarket, (took some finding but) check.

As it happened, some of the others from Liverpool had also started to arrive, so as the evening came and our stomachs rumbled, out we went. Only 4 metro stops down the line is the town centre, just far enough away to escape uni without feeling like we were in completely open and unknown waters. And what should two Liverpool-based girls find a somewhat dodgy attempt at fish and chips in Penny Lane, a pub based on Liverpool’s own Cavern Club.

I told you, I’m meant to be here.

Discover more

Read the previous entries of Emily's Year Abroad blog.

Study in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool.

Learn more about studying abroad.