We had a very eventful first week in Vichy! After arriving Sunday evening, I met my host family and the Armenian who was staying there as well. We all sat down to have dinner together and (with the help of google translate) managed to get to know each other a bit.
Monday morning, I sat down to a typical French breakfast of bread and jam. At 8am, we had to sit the placement test to see what classes we should be in during our time at Cavilam. This took about 3 hours and after, we had a 3 hour break for lunch. I met up with a couple other Australians and we all ate paninis for lunch together at a local cafe in Vichy. After lunch we received the information about what classes we would be in and had our first class at 2:30 that afternoon. The class went for an hour and a half and was a general introduction class, there were some students that were already in the class and we joined as there is a new intake every Monday. In my class there are currently 2 Australians (including me), 5 Koreans, 2 Columbians, a Turkish man and an Armenian boy but who knows what it will be next week! I was very tired after class so I went straight back to my host family’s house to chill.
On Tuesday, class started a little later as we did not have to do the exam. After a hike up five flights of stairs we had a two and a half hour grammar class with a 20 minute break in the middle. After our morning class, we had a two hour break for lunch before our conversation class in the afternoon. During the break, I met other Australians and we all got baguettes and went to the nearby park to eat and chill. I had the same people in my afternoon class but some of the others changed classes. In this class we practice conversation in French about different topics. My class is an A1 level and so we all helped each other out when someone didn't know how to say something. In the afternoon after class, we went to a bar alongside the “beach” (a river with sand put down to make a little shore) and all had a beer whilst discussing class and getting to know each other more.
On Wednesday afternoon, some of the other Australians and I partook in the one of the cultural activities that Cavilam organised. We took an hour and a half bus out to the Puy De Dome and then proceeded to climb the volcano. It took us a little while the get to the top but it was 100% worth it once we got up there! The view was absolutely breathtaking and made us almost forget about the very steep hike up to the top.
After class on Thursday, there was a small wine tasting at Cavilam that I attended. The tasting was put on by a restaurant in Vichy. It consisted of some snacks and tasting a white wine, a rose and a red wine. The man who ran the event was very nice and it was a fun way to try some French wine and snacks on a budget!
On Friday night, there was drinks at a local bar along the river in Vichy. We decided to go there for a couple drinks. We ended up meeting some other Australians on the program as well and got to know each other. It was a very good end to my first week of uni at Cavilam! We all walked home together around 1am as we had to be up and ready for our weekend trip to Lyon the next day.
That Saturday morning, six of us Australians took a train to Lyon for the weekend. When we arrived we walked to a Thai restaurant for lunch and then walked to our hostel, settled in and freshened up. We spent the rest of the day making our way around Lyon, slowly heading to Old Lyon. We stopped on the way to watch the last 5 minutes of the France vs. Argentina match which France won. In old Lyon, we found heaps of cool little cafes and vintage shops which we stopped to have a look at. We bought some wine and cheese and eventually made our way up to the Basilica de Fourviere where we sat and had a little picnic whilst the sun set.
The next day, it was supposed to be very hot so we woke up early and walked to the Parc de la Tête d’Or where we had lunch next to the lake. After lunch we hired two paddle boats and went out onto the lake for 30 minutes. The water was so nice and blue, and it was very tempting to jump in given how hot it was getting. We then slowly made our way around Lyon, found a very cool mural but it was getting very hot so we sat down at a bar and had some drinks and snacks. We stayed there for nearly two hours during the hottest part of the day and then we decided to get ubers back to our hostel. We chilled there for a bit and cooled down then headed back to Old Lyon for a nice dinner. It was great to have a big dinner to end the trip! We then went to bed as we had to be up at 5:40am to catch our train back to Vichy!
It was such a great first week and it was so nice that we have all meshed so quickly and well enough to be able to pull off a weekend trip with no hassles within under a week of knowing each other. So far it has been such a great experience and I’m looking forward to what the next 3 weeks bring!
My names Beth and I’m a second year student studying Law and International Relations at the University of Adelaide. I’ve travelled to Italy and Spain before, both on exchanges. I speak four languages and I love reading, writing, photography, travel and cats!