Bonjour tout le monde et bienvenu sur mon premier blog!
I am actuellement on my year abroad and throughout the rest of this academic year, I will be blogging or vlogging for you guys to give you une idée of what a year abroad is like and the benefits and opportunities that come with studying a language, or two!
First of all, je me présente: Je m’appelle Jennifer, j’ai vingt ans et j’étudie les langues modernes (français et espagnol), traduction et interprétation à l’Université de Swansea. As a language student at Swansea University, I am given la chance de passer a year living and working or studying in a different country. Since I also study translation, I get to spend un semestre in a French-speaking country and the other in a Spanish-speaking country either doing a translation or interpreting-related job or studying at a translation partner university, so I chose to spend the le premier semester studying at l’Université de Genève, Switzerland (where I currently am) and le deuxième semestre studying at Valencia University, Spain.
The topic I have been given to discuss in this blog is ‘Self and Relationships’ from my point of view in Genève.
L’indépendance et le développement personnel
One skill that I have most certainly learnt and improved is l’indépendance. Of course, après de commencer l’université and moving all the way from Essex to Swansea J’ai déjà appris a little about l’indépendance. However, moving from un pays to another (where your native language is not spoken) brings you to a whole new level of independence. It has definitely been a challenge, mais I have been able to naturally adapt to it and I now feel more independent and self-reliant than ever before.
I remember l’anée before I started mon année à l’étranger. I had heard horror stories about people who had gone on their year abroad and came back for their final year at university without having improved their language skills at all. la raison pour ça seemed to be plus ou moins la même; the exchange students only made friends with other English-speaking people. As a language student, this was one of mes pires craintes, that I would come back to Swansea with my language skills au même niveau or only slightly better, alors je m’ai promis que when I went on my year abroad, I would stay away from English-speakers autant que possible… then I arrived. Dès que je suis arrivée à‘l Aéroport de Genève, I felt very overwhelmed by the language change. Bien sûr, if I had been there en vacances (or not there with the intention of improving my oral communication), I would have just spoken to everyone en anglais and felt fine but I felt like I was only allowed to speak in French which au début was extremely difficile and quite embarrassing as I made so many mistakes and was not confident in speaking it. Cependant, this did not last forever, at some point you just get over the embarrassment and then eventually you will improve and feel confident speaking to anyone. The experience of living here has definitely made me challenge myself and push through even when things seems so hard and impossible.
Généralement, à Genève les gens sont gentils et patients. No one will laugh at you or ignore you if your French is not perfect or if it is taking you a long time to say what you need to say.
Faire des amis is not hard. Making francophone friends while your grasp on the French language is weak can be hard, mais pas impossible. The thing is, les étudiants at my host university sont juste étudiants normales, trying to form meaningful relationships, wanting to express themselves freely in sa propre langue and I have found that only students avec beaucoup de patience would make the effort with me. There have also been so many opportunities pour rencontrer des gens et pratiquer my language skills through the university-organised Tandem Language exchanges in which on se rencontrer avec quelqu’un whose first language is the language you want to improve on and vice-versa. Par exemple, I would meet with native French speakers who wanted to improve their English and we would take it in turns speaking in French for half the time and then English. Pour moi, c’était très utile as it gave me the opportunity de parler avec native speakers in a casual environment and it was also a great way to meet new people.
Par comparaison avec l’Université de Swansea, Geneva est très, très calme. There aren’t many societies (apart from sports), il n’y a pas de Varsity ni de vie nocturne. One thing that I immediately noticed is that les étudiants are very studious. La premiere semaine du semestre, when lectures had hardly begun, je suis allée a la bibliothèque just to print something and was surprised to see that the library was almost full! However, when I started getting des devoirs from all my classes every week, I understood. All of this can make it difficult to form relationships as a student in Geneva.
Qu’est-ce qu’on fait pour s’amuser à Genève ?
In Geneva, il y a beaucoup de tourist attractions and things to do around the city. The most popular are probably the famous Jet d’Eau, the United Nations, and the Red Cross Museum, there are also tons of other museums. Aside from all the tourist attractions, j’aime bien participer in the various university sports societies (most of which are free). One thing you’ll learn if you ever come to Geneva est que les gens sont très actives, and I found that the longer I lived here, the more j’ai aimé des sports and exercise. Habiter à Genève is also amazing si tu aimes voyager et experience different cultures and languages, as Geneva is about 1 hour 30 mins away from Lyon, France, et on a la possibilité de voyager throughout Switzerland where French, German, Italian and Romansh are spoken.
Voilà, c’est tout pour l’instant. À la prochaine!