What not to do on your Year Abroad

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There are probably a lot of things that shouldn’t be done, but I’d say that #1 on the nightmare list is losing your passport. But somebody’s got to do it, eh?

Luckily(??) for me, it went missing on the return half of a journey back from London for an assessment day and so I wasn’t stranded in the UK or having to fork out for accommodation costs until it was sorted. On the other hand, I think it made the process of getting a new one a lot longer as I had to go through the British embassy in Paris. The process of getting a new passport from abroad takes roughly 6/8 weeks, but my issue was that I already had a flight home booked in 3/4. I ended up paying for an emergency travel document, but the good news is that it only took four hours to make and there was absolutely no hassle at customs. I was also rescued by my dual nationality when my Irish passport arrived in time for my return journey.

In hindsight it all seems to have worked out pretty well (all things considered), but having no identification in a foreign country was not only expensive but also mentally draining. Everything else I had as a form of ID had to be sent off in order to get my new passport, but that left me in a bit of a void. As a rule, you don’t get ID’d in France to buy alcohol but as soon as mine was gone it was like I had a sign tattooed on my head asking for it. Thankfully my student card was enough to get me an emergency passport at the embassy, but nothing was ever guaranteed when using it. I also discovered that Paris has a massive vault of lost and found items – le service des objets trouvés – and your pickup point will depend on where you left your stuff. SNCF also have an online website for listing items if you’ve left them on a train etc. My passport was obviously never recovered because it was stolen. I think. / I hope… because then I can legitimately say that it wasn’t my fault.

Other things not to do:

  • Kid yourself into thinking the weather in northwest France is better than the UK
  • Tell your parents about every minor issue, because when you lose your passport they will just think this is because you are overwhelmingly incapable of functioning
  • Bring 24 passport photos. People say the French love admin and identity pictures and, whilst this is true, my approach was overkill.

Disasters aside, I managed to get to Morocco on half term before my passport went AWOL and the weather lately has been incredible. Morocco was actually great for speaking French as well because nooooobody questioned your accent – a daily ritual here. Morocco also seems to be somewhat of a rite of passage for year abroad students these days,  but I am now more than aware as to why. So much culture, diverse landscapes and unbelievable shopping opportunities; You can even get your I-went-on-a-YA look sorted for under a tenner. I managed to visit Marrakech, Merzouga, Fes and Rabat in a week, which was a whirlwind but so worth it. Still loads of places left on my list though!

We used the ever-wonderful covoiturage to get to the beach for the day (the burn turned to tan eventually) and picnicking has also happened. This term has been really fun – so my blogging silence can be accounted for by that rather than me having nothing to talk about! I have most of my exams for this term next week which is very hard to believe as this term really has flown in. The longer I spend in France the less I want to leave it. Either way, at least I will have more time to enjoy myself after next week!!

 

Jane xxx

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