Bethanie - Université Lumière Lyon 2

B Arts/Law
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

Lyon 2 has two university campuses: Berges du Rhone, which is centrally located and Bron, which is about 40 minutes out of the city via tram. My classes were equally split amongst the two campuses. 

While I was on exchange I studied a full-time load of elective courses at Lyon 2, 30 ECTS in total. These were Lyon et Son Histoire (The history of Lyon) ; Introduction au droit français (Introduction to French law) ; Introduction à la politique française (Introduction to French politics) ;  Lyon, une métropole européenne (Urbanisation of Lyon), SLM (essentially a french language learning class to improve all areas of your spoken and written French) and I also did an introductory course before the semester started called PRUNe. Although this class started two weeks before university started, this course was the perfect way to become acquainted with the French system of learning, see Lyon and also make friends. 

The French administration system is notoriously frustrating and this continues at a university level. There is no online registration system for courses and actually finding classes can be quite difficult. I found the best way to find information was to email professors directly.

Personal experience

Lyon was the perfect destination for my semester abroad. 

As a historically rich and visually beautiful city, I really enjoyed exploring Lyon and what it had to offer. The main park in the city, Parc de la Tete d’Or, was magnificent place to pass the time, regardless of the season.  Lyon is also home to numerous museums, galleries and historic sites and hosts a variety of cultural events, including street markets with local produce every weekend. There are also Christmas markets throughout December!

Lyon is also centrally located in France, which makes it very easy to travel around. The train system and bus services make accessing other French cities and even boarding countries effortless, quick and relatively inexpensive. I really enjoyed being able to take day-trip and weekend trips away while studying. Annecy and Chamonix were two of my personal favourites to visit in France.

Lyon is very popular with Erasmus students, which means I was able to make many friends from all around Europe. The Erasmus organisation also arranged countless parties, tours, language learning events and weekend trips for international students and French students to meet. If you love to ski, I recommend attending their ‘weekend du ski’. It offers an amazing weekend of skiing in Courchevel at a (extremely) student-friendly price.

Accommodation

I lived by myself in a studio apartment in the 8e arrondissement. There was a tram stop 100m from my apartment, which took me to the main university campus in less than 15 minutes. 

Although I knew that living alone would not be the cheapest form of accommodation, I loved my little studio due it’s centrality and the freedom it provided.

Costs

Your budget for exchange will be largely dependent on the extent you travel, your choice of accommodation and where you buy your food. 

Regarding travel, companies like OUIBUS and FlixBus offer great fares for getting around Europe and they make it very affordable to do day and weekend trips. Depending on how much travel you expect to do within France, it might be worth purchasing a Carte Jeune which provides certain discounts to those aged 12 to 27. For students in Lyon, the cheapest way to travel around the city via public transport is to purchase a TCL card which is 30 euro per month.

Challenge

I put a lot of pressure on myself to develop my French while on exchange. Although this resulted in a successful 6 months of language learning, sometimes I became overwhelmed by the French language. I worried that I wasn’t improving as quick as I had hoped. However, the little feats, like random conversations with my neighbours or booking a doctor’s appointment over the phone, were very motivating. Becoming a proficient French speaker was never going to be an overnight process.

Professional Development

In addition to developing my French language skills, exchange challenged me to be adaptable to unknown situations. Although I had done a lot of planning for exchange, I realised that even the best laid plans go awry.

Highlight

As much as I loved all the travel that I was able to do around France and in neighbouring countries, I really appreciated being able to experience the French culture. From the daily boulangerie visits and being able to run along the Rhone after a long university day, I loved the simultaneous energy and composure of the French lifestyle.

Top tips

• Try to get accommodation that is in the middle of both campuses, but if you must choose, try and be closer to Berges du Rhone as that’s near the heart of the city.
• Some courses require an entrance exam, so if you’ve had a break from French, maybe brush up on your skills before you go to avoid missing out on classes that you want.
• Join all the Erasmus Lyon Facebook event pages as this is the best way to know what is going on in the city.
• Trams are often more reliable than the Metro.