I am in my third year of a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Auckland, majoring in French and Media Studies, which I aim to complete by the end of this year, provided all goes to plan! Carrying on with my French throughout university has been one of my proudest achievements, as I was so determined to continue securing my grasp of the language and have noticed such an exciting development in the last three years.
In semester two this year I am going on a university exchange to Lyon so I can finish off my degree in style. Travelling to France in 2014 fulfilled my life-long dream of seeing, breathing and experiencing the country, so I my heart is all aflutter about taking that dream one step further and living there for six months.
My fellow 2014 ambassador, Emma, spent a semester in Lyon last year (you can read about her experience here!), so I feel very comforted in knowing that I can get her advice on where to find accommodation, how to navigate all the admin, and the best place to get my morning café au lait.
I can’t wait to truly explore Europe for the first time, and have been furiously saving money for months in order to fund my very lofty travel goals. Number one on my list is going back to Arras to reunite with my treasured host family from 2014, who have sent me a Christmas card every year since I stayed with them. As well as Arras, I plan on visiting Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, and anywhere else that my bank account will take me.
I can’t wait to make friends from all over the world, to form connections with so many different people, and to establish lots of free accommodation when I go travelling again later in life. I’m excited to find my new identity as ‘the exchange student’, and bond with others who are in the same position as me. I am also hoping to make as many French friends as my timid little “oui, un peu” face can, as I know it will help my language development remarkably.
On that note, I can’t wait to immerse myself in everything French for such a beautifully extended period. My ultimate goal is to come out of my exchange confidently able to say I am bilingual, so I will take every opportunity I can to speak in French. I’m prepared for the discomfort and the out-of-my-comfort-zone-ness, and if it comes to the end of the exchange and I’m not quite there yet, I’ll just have to stay!
The Shared Histories trip of 2014 had such an immensely positive impact on my life and, to this day, I am so grateful for the experience. Little things constantly remind me of the whirlwind two weeks, from the story on the news a few nights ago about the Arras tunnels, to the anticipation of a catch up with another fellow ambassador, Sophie, in Wanaka tomorrow.
I know the experience will stay with me forever, and I can’t wait to add many more French memories come July! As far as my future plans go, I'm just going to see where life takes me. That sounds very quixotic putting it into writing, but I honestly don't know what I am going to do after my exchange ends. If my degree ends up finished at the end of the year and my funds allow, I will hopefully be able to stay in Europe for while just travelling/working, but eventually I plan on ending up back in Auckland.
Career-wise, I hope to find a job in the publishing/media industry, whether that be as the editor of a lifestyle magazine, a free-lance travel writer or an investigative journalist. At this stage though, I'm just going with the flow and hoping it takes me somewhere exciting and inspiring.