20 years old, Russia
My name is Veronica, I am 20 years old. I was born and raised in the small town Vologda, I went to school with in-depth English classes. I have always liked the exact sciences and I realised a long time ago that I want to become an architect. I started thinking about continuing my studies in another country as early as year 9. I felt there were more opportunities available to me. I understood that European education would be able to give me a lot more in life, including a more promising job and the opportunity to live in a good country, where you are surrounded by friendly people.
First steps towards the dream
I didn’t think about going to France and I didn’t expect that I would study and live there. In year 10, I went to Paris with my family and after walking around the streets, learning more the French culture, watching people, this idea popped into my head. I read about higher education in France on the Internet, learned more information about admission and realised that everything is entirely possible. The only problem was the language. I started attending French courses in my hometown but I understood that this process might take a very long time. My parents and I started planning to go to France after high school for half a year with the aim of learning the language and passing the exam.
A difficult choice
There was no problem choosing the specialization: I realized a long time ago that I like architecture. Throughout year 11, I attended preparatory courses at the faculty of architecture in my hometown and realized that this really was my cup of tea. The choice of the city and the university was more difficult. When we were deciding which city to take courses, we looked at the Cote d'Azur and nearby towns. We wanted to be near the sea, in a good climate. I spent half a year in Nice, met people from all over the world, met a lot of new friends, spent time wonderfully and passed the French language proficiency exam. Initially, I thought about going to the architectural school in Marseille, but after visiting it, I didn’t like the city. I began to think about Montpellier, read a lot of good reviews about it and decided to go there too, take a look at the city and visit the architectural school. Montpellier made a very good impression on me right from the start - it has a small campus but there were a lot of interesting places to visit. The architectural school made a good impression on me too, I spoke with the headteacher and took a look at the building. That’s how I chose the city and the university I wanted to go to.
Now I live in France, Montpellier, and am coming to the end of my first year at the architectural school. I can't say it was easy. At the beginning, I couldn't settle down, there were problems with the language, as I hadn’t practiced it for half a year. Because of these language problems, it took me a while to fit in and make friends. Studies were difficult at the beginning, I studied in all my spare time. All weekends were devoted to my homework. The most difficult and important thing at architectural school is the coursework project. You cannot resit or resubmit, so if you don’t get the grade you need, you have to repeat a year. But in the first semester I passed everything and I started to make some good friends. There is an unusual atmosphere at our school that you didn't even want to go home in the evening. We all hang out, talk and laugh. In the second semester I went out more, visited other cities, in general, enjoyed my life :) I’ve decided to stay here in the summer and not to return to Russia, I will work on the beach.
I have no regrets
Everything turned out exactly as I wanted. I would not want to change anything. Now I can say that I am really happy. I'm in a good and warm country, studying at a place I like, I am surrounded by friendly people, almost every day I see the sea and enjoy the sun. I actually never even dreamed about this, I just tried to obtain my goal and now enjoy the results :) And I still need to study for many years. There are so many things I want to do, so many places I want to visit that sometimes I think that life is too short. But I try to enjoy every day.
Struggling with homesickness
Maybe it sounds strange, but I wouldn't say that I’m homesick. I hadn't been to Russia for about 8-9 months and when I came back for 2 weeks, I realised how good I feel here in France. No, of course, going back home is wonderful, I love my family and all my relatives and I was extremely happy to see them all. But I've never been to close with my family, I’m used to living far away. My parents always support me, we talk almost every day and they are very happy for me. Of course, at the beginning, it’s always not easy, I even wanted to go back to Russia to my comfort zone where I used to live. But every time, I told myself that I couldn’t do that: my parents and I had put in too much effort, I can’t surrender. So I continued to settle in another country, trying to deal with everything myself and finally everything turned out great.
Friends in France
Yes, I've got a lot of friends here and they are all very different. I hang out with girls from different countries, and it is very interesting for me to learn their culture and customs. I have many French friends and the difference in our mindset doesn’t pose a problem. More precisely, I don't even notice that there is a difference. People are, on the contrary, more open, friendly, willing to help. I really like that they are always willing to talk to new people. I discovered the BlaBlaCar website and traveled to other cities with fellow travellers several times. And every time I make new acquaintances, we chat all the way, everyone smiles and is very friendly. I feel great with people like this. It may be due to the fact that we’re near the sea and it’s always sunny. People seem happier.
How I heard about Quartier Latin
I learned about Quartier Latin about 2 years ago when we were choosing a language school. I found the group in VK and asked about language courses.
Help from professionals and old friends
I went to Nice for six months to learn the language and when I sent an application to the architecture school in Montpellier, I contacted Quartier Latin again. We were not one hundred percent sure that my application would be accepted and wanted to have a backup plan. We were offered several engineering schools and we submitted my documents to them. But then I found out that the architectural school in Montpellier had accepted me, and that I had concurrently enrolled in Metz University, where I had sent an application with Quartier Latin. But my goal was Montpellier so we stopped. Then we again contacted Quartier Latin for assistance in finding housing. We found an excellent studio not far from my school and they helped me with the paperwork.
Three main difficulties
The biggest, initial difficulty was arriving in an unfamiliar country for the first time and being there alone. When I had only planned to go to Nice, everything had seemed much easier. My family went with me and when the woman, whose house I lived in for half a year, met me at the airport, I realised that I wasn’t quite ready for it all. Of course, at the beginning it was very difficult especially when my family left me after a week. I felt terribly lonely but then I started making friends at the language school, we started to spend excellent time together, I liked the courses very much, and everything was OK. The second difficulty was also the arrival in Montpellier and adapting to the new school. In Nice, I lived with a host family, and here in Montpellier I live alone. Since I hadn’t practiced the language for almost half a year, I wasn’t self-confident. I kept thinking that I would say something stupid and that it was better to stay silent. The most difficult day was the first lesson in the atelier where we were engaged in the coursework project. I was so nervous that I didn’t understand the teacher at all and ended up in a group with guys that I also didn’t understand because I was so stressed. I didn't really understand what was going on and what I needed to do. It turned out that we had been divided into groups, and each group had been given a house to analyse. We had to find information about it, make drawings and a blueprint. But I only realised that much later. As soon as I left school to go for lunch, I immediately burst into tears, called dad and said I was coming back home. Now it is pretty funny to look back on that but at that time, it was very difficult for me. Dad told me to wait a little more, try to make friends and that everything would be OK. Of course, I understood that I could not simply give up after all the difficulties that I had overcome. So I continued to study, gradually made friends and fit into the group, got used to the studies, and passed my coursework project with flying colours. Difficulties always exist: it is definitely necessary to step out of your comfort zone and be sociable. People here are very friendly and glad to help everyone especially the teachers who recognise that everything is quite difficult for me. Thanks to this positive environment, I now feel at ease and am very happy to be here.
The biggest achievement is moving itself. I am very glad that I was able to overcome my loneliness and fear of new people. My achievement, I believe, is also that I passed all my exams and projects in both semesters and have never had to resit anything. I look back at myself a couple of years ago and feel that I have grown up and become more sociable. I learned a lot of life lessons from all the difficulties that I encountered. Now nothing scares me, I can go anywhere absolutely alone, safe in the knowledge that new adventures and new acquaintances are out there awaiting me. I plan to travel to America next summer on the Work and Travel program.
Words of gratitude
Quartier Latin helped me a great deal in achieving my goal. They always give a helping hand, give a piece of advice, or find a solution to the problem. I am very grateful for their assistance in enrolling, finding housing and simple household problems, for example, with electricity. I do not think that I would have achieved all that without their help. Thank you!! I wish your Сompany every success and I advise everyone who dreams of studying in another country to contact Quartier Latin!