My time in Paris has finally come to an end, and I am currently back in London, feeling particularly reflective on this past year. Post-Erasmus blues? Not even close.
I started this blog with the very excited “here’s hoping a year abroad is everything they say it will be and more”. Upon reflection, I am eager to find those “they” and give them a serious reality check.
What was supposed to undoubtedly be the most fulfilling, and best year of my life, surprisingly ended up being the complete opposite. The “Year Abroad myth” is students tend to have a very chilled “cushion” year, before returning back to their home universities to face the final year fear. However, for the French European Law students, this was definitely not the case.
Whilst I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity, 10 months down the line, I do honestly wish that I had turned it down. Studying abroad should be an amazing experience, but instead, it was almost as stressful as a year at Warwick, and I don’t think anybody was truly happy (in Paris at least). Don’t get me wrong – stress is normally okay, and very usual around exam time and essay deadlines. But the fact that for basically the entire year, I felt an unusual amount of stress, and unease, goes to show that this year was not what it should’ve been.
The ultimate source of difficulty was the disrespect we got as Erasmus students. You can mostly laugh it off, but it eventually got to the point where it was genuinely too far, and at no point did I ever feel welcome enough. I was never directly “attacked” in such a harsh manner, but to see some friends being picked on by staff still angers me so much. How dare anybody treat somebody like they are something to be ignored, or discarded? Unfortunately, I feel as though this is something that will never change. So if you haven’t got a thick skin, prepare yourself to grow one. Otherwise, you may find this year will completely defeat you.
I hate to admit it, but I would even go as far as to say that the year was a waste. I look to my friends who are now graduating, and entering the real world with their new jobs, and I feel slightly cheated – that could’ve been me, if only I didn’t take an Erasmus year…
However, that is not to say that your entire year will be an utter shitfest. You will probably hate university, but always remember: you are in PARIS. I think our biggest mistake was working too hard and too much. It is unfair to blame everything on the workload and mean comments – we could’ve definitely made more time for ourselves. We could’ve definitely explored Paris throughout the year, rather than just saving it all for when our friends came to visit. Looking back, I wouldn’t say I can blame my bad experience completely on university. You just really need to not let it get you down, and always make time for yourself! We always had the intention of having nights off and all enjoying time together, but we mostly just ended up in our own rooms watching TV or FaceTiming our friends – pining for the past instead of living in the present, I suppose.
So moral of the story? Take the studies seriously, but not too seriously. We are a bunch of classic (annoying) law students, in that we are utterly obsessed with getting good grades, and securing our 2.1. But at what cost? I’m sure I could’ve got the same marks this year and been happy at the same time. You managed to do it at Warwick, so I’m pretty sure you can do it in Paris. This may be really poor advice, but you’re never going to speak in your TD anyway, so stop working till 9pm trying to do every fiche d’arret, and go and explore Paris.
Paris itself is exceptional. If you make time to find it, the beauty will never cease to amaze you. Of course, it is far from the perfect city you see in Amelie, and other French films, but it will still leave you amazed – in both the positive and negative sense of the word!
Unfortunately, as beautiful as Paris is, in my case, the city itself was not enough.
At least this year has taught me a lot. After all, it was by no means a walk in the park. At the very least, I can say I survived. It’s a real shame. My final week should have been a flurry of emotions, but instead, my only emotion was my overwhelming desire to leave. So much for falling for the charms of Paris then.
In conclusion, I was expecting Paris and myself to have a serious love affair. Unfortunately, it was nothing but a mess, and I can’t imagine a romantic reunion anytime soon.
That’s it for Patel in Paris! 10 months later and it’s all over.
Thanks for reading. Good luck to those embarking on the same route- may it be less draining than our attempt.