Living in Lyon: Do's and Don'ts
Going to live in a foreign country is never an easy thing. It takes courage, faith and an open mind to do so. Only the strongest of the bunch dare to do it, knowing that sometimes, life’s best experiences are those that take you out of what you’d call your “comfort zone”, and enable you to find comfort in things you may have never done before.
Going to live in a foreign country is hard but going to study in a foreign country is even harder; especially when the language there doesn’t happen to be a language that you are fluent in - or a language that you know at all!
I’ve found that studying abroad, specifically in Lyon (France), requires determination, resilience and last but not least, a handy list of Lyon Do's and Don’ts. So I, your dame in shining armour (…or just regular old clothes) have put together a list of Top 3 Do's and Don’ts in Lyon. And, on top of that, I’d like to tell you a real life story about why you should keep your bread safe when embarking on a trip to Lyon.
Top 3 Do’s of Lyon
1. Do get to grips with the Técély transport system
Técély (TCL) is a transportation network comprised of metros, funiculars, trams and buses, and is about to become your bestfriend. First step, visit either Bellecour, Part-Dieu or Grange-Blanche train station with your carte etudiante, attestation de residence, a passport-sized photograph, a form of ID and €28.10. In exchange for this, you will receive a type of oyster card that gives you access to all TCL means of transport for a month. Also, be sure to download the TCL app on your smartphone for timetables, maps and journey plans.
2. Save money on your accommodation with CAF
By applying for CAF, you can save up to €180 on your accommodation every month, dependent on its size and how much your rent is. There is a dedicated CAF building a few stops away from the Part-Dieu Centre Commerciale. Be sure to go in and ask for more information or check out their website in the meantime.
3. Explore Lyon on foot!
Lyon is a large but small town. Large because there are many different areas but small because it is possible to walk to the main locations (obviously dependent on where you are situated). My point is, by exploring Lyon on foot, you get to see the different sides of Lyon and let’s face it, it’s a good way to up the exercise meter.
[Photo of the Fête des Lumières, Lyon, by flexgraph]
Top 3 Don’ts of Lyon
1. Don’t hang around with Erasmus students only
This applies to whichever country you go to. Be it a country in which they speak a language you are comfortable with or a country that speaks a language you don’t know at all. The fact is, when abroad, you want to submerge yourself in the culture and language of that country because that is when you will truly have the best experience. Sticking with the same type of people when in a foreign land is comfortable, but that’s it really. If you want to learn the language of that country and have an amazing year abroad, I’d suggest expanding your social groups.
2. Don’t think all countries have the same traffic codes
As petty as it may sound, it is knowing the little things like how to cross the road that will save you embarrassing tales and heartache. Get to know the traffic codes of the country because each country differs. For example, in Lyon, even though the green man gives you the go ahead to cross, cars are sometimes still allowed to drive too! In America, crossing the street at a random point is called jaywalking and can result in arrest! Stay clued up.
3. Don’t rush to buy everything all at once
Lyon has some great side street shops that sell household goods and pretty much whatever you need. Instead of rushing to buy everything you need on the first or second day, why not buy the essentials and make it your mission to discover these great little shops one by one as the days go by? It’ll save you a few euros here and there and will definitely be worth the wait.
Last but not least, I’d recommend you keep your bread safe; a lesson I learnt the hard way. After paying for my goods at a supermarket one day, I turned to speak to a friend and within approximately 1 minute of doing so, my bread had disappeared! We came to the conclusion that it may have been a bunch of youths trying to have a laugh (you get that in every country don’t you?) and I was told by the security guard that I could pick up another loaf. Phew. I guess they really do love du pain in France!