Taking it the French way…

I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen – hence it is impossible to summarize these past 4 months in Lyon in a simple weblog. But, at the very least, and for the sake of the memories, I will highlight some of the greatest moments and the most important lessons taught.

The first 2 months was a never ending hell. In the beginning I ended up in the outskirts of Lyon (orh..frankly in the ghetto of Lyon), renting a room from an elder, separated man (well..he wasn’t really separated when I was talking to him back in DK, and the apartment wasn’t that far away from Lyon either..but I suppose many things can change when communicating online). After a serious talk with my Danish friends,  I grabbed my stuff and moved into the residence Manu Park, which was located right next to my school. So after all, the whole thing ended more or less nice, but learned me that;

  1. The cheapest solution is definitely not always the best
  2. Trust your instincts, and don’t be so damn blond at times
  3. It is not always as bad as it sounds, but sometimes it really is as bad as it sounds.

After this experience  I was renting a room for myself, but was quickly joined by Nadja, another student from CBS. The first days were very honeymoonish. We played cards, spoke with our new neighbours and explored the city of Lyon. I think we had a feeling of being tourists, and hadn’t really realized that we weren’t going home yet. I remember that Nadja and I kept talking about how wonderful and different Denmark was. We kept stalking our friends back home on FB and Twitter, and had the feeling of “Not being where we were supposed to be” and missing “home”.

But what is “home” when it comes to it? The definitions are many, but when being a citizen of the world, one thing I know for sure; home is where you are happy. It is the things that surrounds you and the things that you remember in your memories when you are gone; Nad’s sausages in the fridge, the poster from the Beaujolais trip on the table, the smell from the scented candle from Monoprix, the wine and cheese nights, the administration at JM3, KGB, the morning runs with Kieran and Jesus….and the constant knocking on the door.

For when it comes to it “home” can be anywhere in the world.

Trips made

A special thanks goes to Easyjet and the 12-25 SNCF card, who made the trips possible 😉

  • Marseille
  • Paris
  • Fontainebleau
  • Beaujolais area (we needed a couple of times 4 that one)
  • Vienne
  • Annecy
  • Geneva
  • Barcelona
  • 2 times Denmark
  • London
  • Val Thorens

Jean Moulin 3 and Siestas

Luckily enough my university was situated just outside my window – so I missed out all the SNCF strikes we had through-out the semester. And I finally faced the French bureaucratic system: firstly, I was not listed in the school database. I simply did not exist. Hence I had to talk to various people and bring a bunch of different papers (which of course were left in Denmark and had to be faxed). This honestly did mess up my danish monochronic mind a bit. Secondly, I had to face the biggest challenge of them all: the French siesta. Even though the French are considering themselves as the hardest working European citizens (I do not question their workability at all!), they still manage to sneak those 2 hours of rest, and completely close  down of every needed shop (and banks!), in, in the middle of the day. This was very difficult to get used to in the beginning, but, after some time, the  hours from 12-14 were declared as “the Fitness hours” (don’t know whether this declaration would have been accepted by a French men though).


One of my French friends told me, as a cultural information, that the French like to talk about the weather. So, for the sake of being French – the weather in Lyon was incredible. The summer lasted longer than I ever could have imagined, and it was first in late October that I realized that I had forgotten to bring any winter clothes.


Well, I think that AIESEC should be mentioned, as it ended up taking much more time than expected during my stay. Even though I strictly had promised myself to not engage into too many AIESEC activities – the promise wasn’t kept. At my arrival AIESEC Lyon had 3 members, and was very near its extinction.  I took the role of being the Vice President of Talent Management. I saw a whole new horizon, and understood some of my own qualities and faults better. It was very strange having such a big responsibility; especially when dealing with the new members. Suddenly I was the one responsible for them finding their horizon, and for them having a positive AIESEC experience.  The most valuable asset I have from this experience, is the understanding of the elusive mechanisms behind a democratic system – and how easily such a system can be killed, if not having clarified job descriptions and if not following the established rules.


I’ve got a feeling – Black Eyed Peas

She’s a sexy bitch – Akon

Stereo Love – Edward Maya

What started off as a coincidence and a rushy, not well-thought-through decision, ended up as being an unforgettable life time experience.

Before leaving I read a bunch of travel reports written by other students – the whole thing seemed easy and very well explained and outlined. But they forgot to mention one thing – how it felt to leave. It is terrible. Maybe that is why nobody mentions it. It took me days to realize that I would never wake up to Nadja’s voice again, that I couldn’t go to KGB or Cosmo, eat and drink cheap, yet very good, wine and cheese, have a swim with Stefi, and that there were no more trips to Leaderprice or Beaujolais. But I have placed all these moments a safe place: in my memories.

For those of you who want to go on exchange someday – you might like it or not in the beginning, you might miss “home” a lot, you might be sleepless at night, you might not even be able to understand the mentality of the country you are living in – but, no matter what, when the whole experience is over it will effect you some way or another. One of my friends lost 8.8 pounds down there, another gained 13,2 pounds.  One learned another language. Another visited Denmark during the winter breaks – without actually knowing Scandinavia at all when he arrived 2 Lyon. And another didn’t like it at all in the beginning, but has now decided to return and stay there for one more semester.

Now, when I am back “home” and resting my head on my familiar, old pillow I finally  understand that I love this town, just the way it is.

And for all who have shared this experience with me:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

This entry was published on January 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm. It’s filed under Adventures and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Taking it the French way…

  1. Deyan Nikov on said:

    Beautiful expose in itself. I think you just discovered yet another of your good qualities:)

    Keep posting!

  2. Great post, especially the part about leaving. I spent the first couple of Moscow thinking “no way am I ever going to get through this!” and now I can’t stop missing it! Am going to try to get an internship or something because I wanna go back!

  3. Laura Davidescu on said:

    I’m so proud of you (as a one-time- mass-media teacher) You’re a gifted writer and you’ll see, what a difference a blog makes ….Bravo! Big hug !

    PS: I’ve got my FB account now…opened it in Azerbaijan, hahhaha…while chasing a think tank lady that was unreachable otherwise. 🙂

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