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Julee during her time in Montpellier, France

Julee from Amsterdam lived in the south of France for half a year, where she took a French language course. It was hard to find a job because of the many students living there too.

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Julee in Montpellier: “Baguette with sausage and fries is my fave drunk food.”

My first thought: HOT! So damn hot. I was dressed for bad Dutch September weather, and when I got off the plane in Montpellier it felt like I was in a sauna. After I dealt with the heat (and sweat) I had to go find my host for the first couple of days. Went wrong. I was a tiny bit nervous before I got on the plane so drank four beers on a mostly empty stomach before boarding. Turned out to be a shorter flight than I thought. So when I found my host I was a bit tipsy. She tried to laugh about it. So mostly I was acting weird and panicky, couldn’t really communicate with her AND was sweaty. Was able to calm down after we arrived at her house and only then really was able to take it all in. Heat still was an issue.

Differences within the country

I don’t remember many shocking differences. I went to France for holidays almost every year since I was a baby, so I was used to the well-known French rudeness towards foreign people. I mostly found little differences in the country itself shocking. In Montpellier they’re much more used to foreigners because it has many Erasmus students, so they were, in my experience, un-French-like nice to me. So I made a French friend pretty quickly, but… She lived with her boyfriend, who’s a Parisian. He didn’t like me because I wasn’t French. Oh and because I’m Dutch, but don’t like weed and hash. Guess we both didn’t like each other’s stereotypes. 

Food culture

A big difference for me mostly was the food culture. I love the fact that it is so normal there to eat at a restaurant for lunch, and have a glass of wine with it. Nothing happens there without food. I’m a big foodie so I think that’s amazing. 

Also, it is very normal to go out to eat or drink something by yourself. In the Netherlands it can still be seen as sad or like you don’t have any friends.

They have this chain of restaurants called l’Entrecote, and its steak is so popular there’s a big queue even before it opens. So my friend and I HAD to try it one time. Got food poisoning. Give me escargots and nothing happens, but apparently that steak didn’t want to stay in my stomach.

Everything closes at midnight

I did feel homesick. In Amsterdam I worked at a party-starting organization, and at night there was always something to do. I like to always have a place to go. But in Montpellier everything in the city centre closes at midnight. So you either went to a house party or home. After midnight the city became really spooky. Silent, and there were freaky people around the corners. I’ve always felt safe in Amsterdam, the time of night didn’t matter. Felt really weird to experience that, and it made me feel less safe and miss home. When I got more friends there it got better because we did loads of stuff together and threw our own parties, but the feeling never really went away.

General relaxed atmosphere

In the end I did feel very much at home. I got used to the spooky nights, I guess. The general relaxed atmosphere of the south of France suits me very well I think. Can’t really put a finger on it, but every time I go back to Montpellier it just feels like home.

Latin Americans & Australians

I’ve met lots of Latin-Americans while I lived there. They’re very easy to make friends with, so that’s good. But they can be a tad lazy. Like, if you live around the corner, they ask you to pick them up with your bike because they’re too tired to walk.

I’ve found it really easy to make friends with Australians. Very laid-back, up for anything and funny. If you meet an Australian while living abroad, definitely keep them close. Dating them? Also good.

If you have trouble making new friends, go to the nearest language course. New people come in every week, and everyone is looking for a friend. Easy way to make them!

Having fun by myself

Even if things scare me I still can survive them, I learned that. And I can be totally by myself and still have fun. I liked the experience a lot, made some really good friends as well. 

I loved some quirky bars they have there, the beaches, eating paella for 4 euros on the beach at sunset, amazing vintage clothes, goooood wine, very drunk nights. 

Oh and: they have this Turkish pizza there, with shawarma AND fries in it. And pain American: baguette with sausage and fries. Both amazing and disgusting and it still is my fave drunk food. 

The French in three words:

Arrogant, cigarettes, curious