Every September a new hoard of crop top sporting, Hollister clad, freebie carrying guys and girls fresh out of college; can be found mooching around University campuses’ around the country, recognisable by the maps clutched in hand and the expressions of excitement worn on their faces. More often than not, they can be found in packs, reluctant to break from the comfort of their other equally intimidated fellows.
It seems an age ago that I myself was a nervous fresher. I remember the joy of getting into university. That sense of almost pride did not, however, stop the burgeoning sense of fear as I approached the first day of term. You know the type, the sudden swoop of nausea and jitteriness that pounces at a glance towards the calendar. If I’m truthful, this stemmed almost entirely from a fear that I would not fit in. Now, on the brink of my third year abroad, I find myself faced with the same jittery butterflies, reluctant yet eager. It’s a journey which involves meeting countless new people, most of whom will be a distant memory after a couple of weeks and drinking countless glasses of Lambrini, beer and cheap alcohol (many of which will resurface the next morning).
…the prospect of travel, foreign friends and the chance to pick up a different language on the horizon…
The year abroad is becoming increasingly common. With the prospect of travel, foreign friends and the chance to pick up a different language on the horizon, it’s not surprising that students jump at the chance. Students from EU countries are also given a gentle nudge in the right direction with a rather generous grant. The opportunity to jet off to distant lands as part of a university degree certainly has its advantages and would be, without a doubt, an incomparable experience.
Despite knowing this, I cannot help but imagine the worst case scenarios. My flight to France will be delayed, my luggage will get lost and seven years of French will evaporate with the first “bonjour”. That is of course assuming that I manage to fit a terms worth of clothing and books in a suitcase weighing less than 20kg. With less than five days till fly day, my list of “necessities” yet to be packed is still shockingly long and the suitcase completely full. When I eventually brought myself to cut down the five pairs of heels piled in a heap along with enough clothes for a year, it took both me and my sister to sit on it and stuff in its bulging clothes handles before zipping it up.
…with the theme tune to Amélie in the background…
Rather shamefully for a student of the language, my last visit to France was almost a decade ago. I know it to be largely false, yet my mind’s eye casts a somewhat comical scene of moustached men wearing striped tops, sporting garlands of garlic and carrying baguettes, walking through the city centre, with the theme tune to Amélie in the background. In reality, Montpellier, a bustling student town and home for the next five months will more likely be a smaller, hotter, less rainy London, with a similar but more bronzed looking population, lots of cheese and sea side jaunts.
The vats of alcohol consumed during Fresher’s week no longer remain a mystery. It’s no secret that a few glasses later, all inhibitions fly out of the window and a good number of friends are made out of joint embarrassing behaviour. Whether the real south of France will marry with my expectations or not remains to be seen, but with this rule in mind, the cheap wine France offers and the close proximity to home if I miss rain, it’s au revoir for now!