Tomorrow I start the journey. That is the Eurostar from St Pancras in London to Lyon via Glasgow to London by Megabus. The former method is sophisticated, spacious and luxurious. The latter is neither of those things but instead greater appreciated by my wallet. Everything is packed, there’s no way I can forget anything. From the corner of my eye I see a mysterious crimson, rectangular shaped object almost glittering in the distance. It’s surely nothing but some random document with an equally obscure purpose. I investigate further. It says, ‘Dieu et mon droit’ some French phrase that can’t be for anything too important. Just underneath that it reads, ‘Passport’.
If you find yourself fraught with too much time a couple of days before your departure abroad, check you have everything packed. Once you have completed that, check again. Only until you are so abhorrently exhausted from checking should you subsequently stop. I nearly forgot my passport, I only checked my luggage nine times. Items you should look out for include: clothes; passport; money (preferably in the correct currency); documents and toiletries. Calamity aside, I seem to be perfectly packed.
As for my accommodation, I will staying at a student residence called ESTUDIS 7 for the year. However, I have had the glorious idea of arriving a week early in Lyon to get to know the city and to, hopefully, start to pick up the language. Upon googling ‘Hostel Lyon’, I find a particularly pleasant yet peculiar place called the SLO Hostel. According to its reviews, which are surely to be trusted, it is clean and safe place to stay in the centre of Lyon. I personally picked my residence because of its proximity to the university: less than 15 minutes by foot and around 5 minutes by tram. It was one of the many private residences suggested by the International Office of Université Lyon 3.
There is also an immersion week offered by the university which involves French language and culture classes, an introduction to your chosen subject and numerous ‘soirées’ which undoubtedly involve drinking. It costs two hundred euros but I have been told by many students who have previously attended the week that it is not to be missed.
The day arrives. I begin at Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow at seven in the morning, nothing short of bewildered by the expedition that lay ahead. I pile both of my bags in the bus and get on. This is billed to be over nine hours to London. However, I am fully equipped with all the absolute necessities – multiple packs of maltesers, orange juice and sandwiches packed with surely every filling conceivable. The bus journey went well until we hit London at four in the afternoon where rush hour strikes and we are delayed by two hours. From previous travel experience I had learned to book transport with sizeable gaps so that it would be less likely I’d miss any trains or flights. The train leaves at eight in the evening.
I arrive at St. Pancras Station in London with all my belongings intact. I checked my luggage again for my passport. French was starting to appear on the signs in the station. Things were getting serious. Despite still being in Britain, London seemed different already and the station itself was particularly confusing for me. Fortunately my English is decent so I navigate my way through the station to the train. I start to hear the French accents which I will become so accustomed to in the coming year. This is startling for me, knowing that my English will count for little over in belle France is terrifying yet incredibly exciting. However, people tell me that it’s the same word for baguette.