My Year in Denain, France

Name: Lucy Anns

Type of year: Working abroad

Location: Denain, France

Course: International Relations with French


·       Why did you choose to do a year abroad?

I chose to do a year abroad in order to improve my French, to gain some work experience, to earn some money, and to immerse myself in a new culture and meet new people.

·       How did you choose where to go?

Well I knew I wanted to go to France but Denain was not my first choice. Originally I wanted to go to Strasbourg because of all the European Union opportunities that are there, but I like living close to Lille and close to home because it’s easier for people to come and visit me.

·       How have you enjoyed being abroad?

The first few weeks have been quite difficult because it takes some time to get used to living in a different country and speaking another language. However, I really like it here. Everyone has been really kind and helpful, and I think it is a real challenge and an exciting experience that I may not get again.

·       What is a typical day like?

I don’t think I’ve had many typical days yet! But a typical working day just involves preparing and teaching English to the children through games and songs and lots of repetition! It’s also a good chance to get to know some of the other teachers a bit better and to try and join in with their conversations. It can be pretty tiring at times because you’re having to translate all the time.

·       What (if any) problems/issues have you come across and how did you overcome them?

There have definitely been a lot of issues! It was difficult to open a bank account and find a place to live, whilst trying to speak French. It’s also quite hard moving to another country because you have to learn how to cope by yourself and make the effort to go out and meet new people even though it can be difficult and awkward if you’re having to translate all the time. The best way to overcome all the difficulties that you might face is to stay patient and know from the beginning that it isn’t going to be easy. You also have to make sure you go out of your way to make the most of every opportunity. And of course the basics – be organised and know that the first month or so is going to be pretty expensive!

·       How has it/it not benefitted you?

I would say that it has greatly benefitted me. It’s always good to do things that are out of your comfort zone and this has definitely been out of mine! I’ve had to learn how to be completely responsible for myself in practically every way. It has really challenged me to meet new people despite the language barrier. It has taught me the importance of being organised and being patient, especially with the French authorities! Moving to another country also gives you an incredible opportunity to learn about another culture and way of doing things, which can be very different from home. 

·       Would you recommend other students to do a year abroad and why?

Yes, I would fully recommend it! As I’ve already said it is a great learning experience and if you become an assistant, great work experience as well. It’s an opportunity that you might not get again. Everyone is worried before they go and everyone has to deal with all the difficulties when they get there but I would say it’s definitely worth it especially if you want to improve a foreign language or get out and see new places and meet new people.

·       What are your plans after university?

I don’t have any concrete plans for after university yet. I might do a Masters or try and find a job straight away, but I would love to have a job where I can use my language skills. I’m thinking of going into International Development and maybe working for the government or something similar.


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