This time, we have the opportunity to interview Eneko Aretxabaleta, a student who has carried out the Erasmus program.
What do you think about the Erasmus program in general, besides its academic advantages?
I think that it is essential for any student to gain this type of experience as it allows one to develop important abilities such as own management of time and money, and the autonomous handling of problems that might occur.
Besides, it obviously broadens your horizon culturally and socially. Whether you work abroad, or not, this is something really useful for your everyday life as you learn how to be more comprehensive with others and open-minded.
What made you choose Lyon as your destination?
I love France and the French language, and when I was in England some time before, I had made some great friends that were from Lyon. So when it came down to choosing my destination, I hardly had to think about where I want to go. I personally like big cities, which are spacious and dispose of a stable climate. Having informed myself on Lyon and its nice parks, its numerous bicycle paths and its huge range of culture and spare-time facilities, I chose to go for this city. It definitely was the right choice for me.
Were your expectations concerning the foreign language fulfilled?
Yes, definitely! I knew that in the beginning it would be quite hard as I didn´t have a good command of French so far. But the people in stores and restaurants were always very kind and helpful towards me, and I never felt out of place. However, to really benefit from your experience abroad, I strongly recommend anyone to build friendships with people from the country he or she is visiting. It is, by far, the best way to learn a language and you will find that after few months it will really pay off as your command of that language will have clearly improved! This will make your experience not only an enjoyable or even unforgettable one, but highly beneficial concerning your professional skills.
Please tell me a little about the trips that you were able to go on while you were staying in Lyon.
I did quite many trips during my stay there. I found it really nice that it is located rather near to Switzerland, wherefore a trip in train to Geneva wouldn´t take me longer than 1 ½ hours and was also rather cheap. In addition, BlaBlaCar is something really common to use in France, so this was an easy and comfortable way for me to travel through France, sharing the costs of a car ride with others. E.g. I went to visit a friend in La Rochelle using BlaBlaCar. I also went to visit Paris, the French capital, which can be reached by bus in roundabout 6 ½ hours (7o€ round trip).
Furthermore, Lyon´s location is perfect if you like snow and winter sports, because it is quite near to the Alps, as I mentioned before. So you can go on a trip over the weekend without having to pay a lot.
What left the biggest mark on you?
Above all the French lifestyle. It is in various aspects quite similar to the Spanish one, but generally spoken; they care more about being respectful towards your next and towards strangers. I also changed the preconception I had about the French nightlife: Before my stay I thought the French nightlife would be a lot calmer than the Spanish one, but I was definitely wrong, they really know how to party in Lyon.
Thank you very much for this interview, Eneko.