Just Beginning… (a slightly late post)

So here we are. The suitcase lies open in front of me, primed for packing. The checklist stares at me expectantly, waiting for me to follow it to the letter. Three pairs of trousers, eight t-shirts, two pairs of shorts… The list goes on, but I would rather prefer not to pack the mandatory five pairs of shoes, and seemingly a month’s supply of socks. I prefer a more maverick approach, I prefer only four pairs of shoes.

Indeed, my suitcase does look completely haphazard at present. The shoes are hugging the edge of the case like an east-London ring road, the shirts are mightily stacked as high as Kilimanjaro and everything else is squashed in the buffer zone in between. Despite this, I’m having a great time. Who knew that I could stuff so many socks into such a small space? Who knew I could inflate the suitcase two fold by saturating it with shirts? Clearly amongst this delirium it will be highly likely that I indeed forget to pack something. I’m praying that between the cotton east-London ring road and leather Kilimanjaro that I find my beach shorts when I arrive.

I will be spending the year studying in Lyon. They tell me that there will be both heat and sun there: this is in contrast to Glasgow where both are considered as myth. Yes, I will need sun cream and sunglasses. No longer will they be an oddity unveiled in hope every blue moon in Scotland, I’m expecting the sun to find me. So far I have shirts, shorts, sunglasses and sun-cream packed. What else could I possibly need?

As for selecting my courses for the upcoming year, this is fairly straightforward. Université Jean Moulin 3 uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) like many other European institutions. Thus, 2 Glasgow credit = 1 ECTS so I need to pick 30 ECTS each semester and 60 for the academic year. This is a case of picking what you want to do and since this your Erasmus exchange, I highly recommend you pick some courses that truly interest you and are rather crazier than your typical module: such as Space Law or International Litigation. This was all completed online at the Lyon 3 website.

Lyon and Université Lyon 3 look amazing. I have the advantage of living in the third largest city in France where there are opportunities abound all while being within a short car drive to both the Alps and to St. Tropez. The university itself has a glowing reputation for law, languages and other humanities subjects and importantly my advisor and course convenors have been especially helpful – even before I have arrived in Lyon!

Time to get serious now. I toss in my gloves, hat, scarf and raincoat after having remembered that winter occurs in France. I pack copies of key documentation that will be vital for my stay – lease included. Despite it being early July, I am keen to be prepared. There are even photocopies of my passport here. Admittedly, there isn’t really too much paperwork. I have my learning agreement, Erasmus contract, confirmation of start form and European Health card. However there are additional documents I would recommend taking: photocopies of your passport; passport photos; copies of your birth certificate and a copy of your lease if you already have found somewhere to stay. The biggest issue I have had is the delay with completing the Learning Agreement since you need to send it away to the university you will be studying at in order to be signed. Many will not have this problem, however those studying in France will be at the mercy of the ruthlessly lethargic French administration. It takes time but the job gets done.

If you have to traverse the suitcase packing, you can then start to pick your method of travel. I chose the train. The Eurostar appealed to me since I was able to get a ticket to Lyon for much less than a flight. And for mysterious reasons, the first-class tickets were the cheapest when I booked. Thus, I can enjoy cheese and wine while travelling (albeit through Kent) and avoid paying excess for my colossal suitcase at the airport.

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