Studying abroad is full of thrilling new opportunities, but when classes start, it’s easy to get into a routine that’s not exactly “exciting.”
8 a.m.: Alarm on my phone goes off. Hit snooze and go back to sleep.
8:10 a.m.: Alarm goes off again. Hit snooze again and go back to sleep again.
8:20 a.m.: Alarm goes off again. Hit snooze and turn on light, then lay back down in bed.
8:25 a.m.: Finally awake enough to get ready for the day. Pick out an outfit from the same clothes I’ve been wearing for the past month.
8:40 a.m.: Go downstairs for breakfast, which is toast with butter or jelly and tea or coffee. It’s not extravagant, but hey, it’s free.
9:00 a.m. – noon: French class, taught by an awesome man who usually teaches linguistics at the university. We do grammar exercises, listening activities, written work and group discussions. It’s extremely difficult, and my brain feels like it’s melting afterward.
Noon – 1:30 p.m.: Free time. I can get lunch at the cafeteria (usually sandwiches), eat a quick lunch in my room (usually involving Nutella), work on homework, or take a nap.
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: European Integration and Politics class. We just started the second half of the course today, which is taught by a Parisian lawyer who speaks five languages.
After class, we’re free once again. On Mondays we usually have a program-sponsored event (tonight is a French and International Aperitif, which will have a sampling of wine, cheese and snacks), and typically once a week we have a group dinner with the professor from NC State. When there isn’t anything planned, I work on homework, go to the mall, walk around town, or go to a bar and watch soccer.
Now that I have this general schedule, which includes six hours of class, it’s easy to say “I’m tired,” and just hang out at the university. I have less than two weeks remaining in Lille, so I want to make the most of it. (If that means missing a homework assignment, oh well. In the long run, I think exploring Lille to the fullest will be more meaningful than preparing for a French debate about Internet pirating laws.)
I originally wrote this post for a local news website in Raleigh while I was studying abroad in Europe in July 2012.
Looking back over this post almost three years later, here are some takeaways:
- Catch up on sleep whenever you can.
- Eat the “free” food the program supplies (remember, you already paid for it) so you can save your money for excursions and fun nights out with new friends.
- Go to class and do the work. Get the most out of our international education and impress the host professors.
- At the same time, remember: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don’t miss out on any unique experiences. Time management is key here. You don’t want to have to stay home to finish a paper while everyone else does something fun!