2022 Spring France Lyon Patricia Almodovar Preparing to go Reflection Temple Exchange

Preparing for a French adventure and overcoming obstacles along the way

Traveling to France has been a wish of mine since I first began studying the French language in the eighth grade. Every Spring, I would watch high school students from my bus stop as they lugged their large suitcases onto buses, ready to partake in an excursion to a foreign country. I pictured myself following in their footsteps and continued to study the language throughout high school. The more I studied the language, the more my admiration and overall interest for truly experiencing the culture, language, and lifestyle of the French grew. Unfortunately, terrorist attacks in the city of Paris resulted in the postponement and eventual cancellation of the Paris trip by the time I could participate in it. Consequently, my yearn to visit the country only became stronger and ultimately Temple’s international presence and advocacy for studying abroad became a major component in my college decision-making process. 

I decided to add a French minor to my academic focus and took a French course every semester at Temple except for this past Fall. At the start of the pandemic, I lost all hope of being able to study abroad in France, but once the possibility reemerged, I decided to waste no time and take advantage of the opportunity. I am in my final year at Temple, so preparing to study abroad has been a very extensive process, as I wanted to ensure that I can graduate on time at the end of this semester. Once I was accepted for my exchange program with Sciences Po in Lyon, France, a wave of emotions hit. It was a very bittersweet feeling to know that I would spend my final semester as a student at Temple, abroad in an unfamiliar, foreign country.  

Family on Christmas Eve
My parents, sister, brother, niece, and I on Christmas Eve.

While I felt pretty confident in my language skills, I was unsure and nervous about meeting new people, making friends, speaking with native French speakers, attending classes, transportation, and so much more. Of all the pre-arrival preparations I had to complete, arranging my housing proved to be the most difficult. Sciences Po does not have any student residence options, so I was advised to use an online housing platform where I could find homestays, apartments, and student residence buildings in the area of Lyon. At first I wanted to live in an apartment on my own or with roommates, so that I could have some personal independence. I found an apartment in close proximity to my school and submitted payment for my first month’s rent and security deposit. Afterwards, some time passed and before my departure to Lyon, I contacted the landlord with questions concerning moving in and so forth. To my surprise, the landlord responded that the apartment was full and that another student had already moved in to the room I had booked on the platform. 

Suddenly, I was in full panic-mode, unsure of what to do next. I got in contact with the helpline from the platform and was able to receive a refund for the room that had become unexpectedly unavailable. Now, the issue became finding someplace else to stay. With my budget for rent, there were not many options available for the dates I needed. Nonetheless, I ended up finding a charming homestay outside of the city of Lyon. I acted quickly to book the homestay, and this time, I immediately contacted the landlord with logistical questions. 

While not what I expected at first, I believe living with a homestay will work out best for me and my goals. Having the opportunity to live with a French family will help me familiarize myself better with the area, practice my French, get a French perspective on things, and so much more. Moreover, my housing issues taught me the importance of confirmation and flexibility. In the future, I will be sure to double and triple check that everything is as planned and when I do run into issues, I will be more open-minded and flexible as to possible solutions. I’m excited to embark on this new journey and cannot wait to immerse myself in all things French!

À bientôt,

Patricia Almodovar

Interested in Temple’s exchange programs or other resources made available to students? Check out the Education Abroad Exchanges page.

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