Why I love NOT living in Paris
Camilla Gash is studying French at the University of Bristol and is spending her year abroad working at a business school in Paris. She writes about her travels and life overseas on her blog. She's chosen not to live in the City of Lights - here's why...
Paris is the perennially popular year abroad destination for 3rd year linguists — Erasmus students flock to the city, attracted by its gorgeous architecture, bustling atmosphere and international reputation. However, there are other options out there!
I have friends who have had a wonderful year abroad in Montpellier, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rouen and Grenoble. Personally, I think I’ve got the best of both worlds, since I live near to Versailles, meaning that I’m in the countryside but can get into central Paris in about an hour on the train. Here’s what you can look forward to about NOT living in the city of lights!
1. The peace and quiet.
Space. Trees. Being able to see the sky! In Paris there are people EVERYWHERE and noise practically all of the time. After a day at work I love being able to retreat from it all and enjoy more spacious living quarters than I’d be able to afford in Paris.
2. It’s a novelty going in on the weekends (or on rarer occasions, if you live further away.)
I get to be a tourist and enjoy all of the sights and sounds, whereas if I were to live there permanently I probably would have become frustrated with various aspects of Paris life, as well as taking the beauty of the city for granted.
3. No morning commute on the metro.
Yes, I may have to deal with the joys (or lack thereof) of the RER when I want to go in and out of Paris, but this is a small price to pay compared to dealing with the crowds, the smells and the confusing metro signs (looking at you, Chatelet — I’ve walked in a full circle before, following those arrows…) on a daily basis.
4. You won’t experience the famous Parisian rudeness.
I was wholly prepared for unhelpful cashiers and unfriendly colleagues when I moved here, but everyone I work with or encounter outside of Paris is lovely. (I know some lovely Parisians too, don’t get me wrong… but the customer service and general attitude can often leave a lot to be desired!)
5. You can fully embrace your country bumpkin side.
I’m able to go on runs through the fields around campus and enjoy evening walks down to the lake. (Muddy wellies are definitely a no-no in Paris.) One of my fellow year abroad stagiaires even goes raspberry picking at the local farm with her colleagues some lunchtimes. How charmant!
6. Long lunches.
This is fairly typical throughout France, but the pace outside of Paris is a little more relaxed and easy-going. 1 1/2 hour lunches all year round, and mealtimes outside now that it’s warm. I’m spoilt, I know…
7. No TOURISTS!
And, strictly speaking, perhaps I should be in that bracket too, but seeing as I’m living here for the year I feel that I can complain with the locals about the hoards of slow-moving, iPad-photo-taking-pavement-hoggers that you’ll find everywhere you turn in Paris.
8. You’ll save money.
Paris rent is cripplingly expensive and you don’t get much bang for your buck. I get to save and spend my money on trips abroad instead, and I’ll be heading back to university in September with enough saved up to get my driving licence and help towards rent for the year.
9. The weather.
In the interest of making this a fair list, I spoke to my colleague Gwen, who was a language assistant in Montpellier on her own year abroad. Sadly, this point does not apply so much to me (being out to the west of Paris), but will definitely be the case for students spending their year abroad somewhere a little further south: it will be sunny and warm (hot, even!) the majority of the time. You’ll get a great tan and none of that dreaded SAD during winter months.
10. You won’t hear as much spoken English as you would in Paris...
...meaning that your language skills will greatly improve! I work at a very international business school, where English is spoken a lot, but Gwen can attest to this about her own year abroad. So, think strategically: the smaller the city/town/village you find yourself in, the better your French will be (at least, that’s the hope)!
I hope this list has shown that there is much more to France than just Paris (beautiful though it is) and that the possibilities for your year abroad are endless… keep your options open!
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