Excuse My French


This whole process so far has not been a simple one. For starters, my plans have changed about four times already. I originally interviewed for a job as a yacht broker’s assistant, and spent weeks fantasising about cruising around on yachts all day in the Mediterranean sun (I was slightly disillusioned when it came to the job spec) but, alas, my imaginary love affair with a rich yacht owner came to a tragic end. I’m over it.

So now the new plan: Erasmus student.

However, from the widespread catastrophe in many an in-class test and past paper, I have come to the frightening realisation that I really do not know very much French at all. Panic ensues. Palms dampening, heart palpating. I hear from the back of my mind in a morbid whisper: for the love of shit Ellen look what you’ve gotten yourself into.

The administrative system in France is extensive and terrifying, and it is already crippling me mentally and financially (for my accommodation application to even be read there is a charge of 150 Euros…) All I’ve really learned so far is that the French bloody love paperwork and get a genuine thrill out of administration, and I’m not certain I can get on board with this.


But then excitement grips me, shaking away the lunacy of doubt and reminding me that this year will be absolument incroyable, of course. I have decided that I will certainly not miss English food, English weather, or the man that loiters outside Stepney Fried Chicken, and I remind myself that Camembert and cabernet awaits me.

I might miss Spoons a bit.

I imagine I’ll still be incredibly homesick. I mean for God’s sake I was bedbound and weeping for a solid week when I first made the measly, yet somehow still stress-inducing, sixty-mile move from Cambridge to London last year. And I will miss my cat more than words will ever have the power to define.

But there is so much I want to do and achieve in France and Switzerland. I want to be able to identify a mediocre merlot and mutter ‘mmm bien, c’est pas grave’ (which, admittedly, will be followed by me chugging it down regardless because, lets be honest, real French wine is always going to be better than Echo Falls.) I want to be fluent in French and scoff at peasant cheeses in The Coop. I want to have an existential awakening as I look out over Lake Geneva, nigh-diabetic from Swiss chocolate, and feel eternally grateful that I have the opportunity to do all of these things.

So that’s the plan. Expect fortnightly updates on my carefree, grant-money-funded, wine-fuelled experiences in Avignon and Geneva. Just as soon as I wade through all this paperwork.

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