Leaving your comfort zone… à la française


Rita Roriz is a 22 years old Portuguese aspiring engineer that decided to leave her comfort zone and spend 4 months in Tour, France, doing Erasmus. Read this interview to find out how was her experience and to read her advices!

Q: Hello Rita! Thank you so much for accepting our invitation. Can you shortly introduce yourself?

A: Hello, thank you for the invitation! I’m Rita, I’m Portuguese and I’m 22 years old; I live in Braga (Portugal) but I study Mechanical Engineering in Oporto, at the University of Porto. I did my Erasmus last year, on the first semester in Tour, in France at Université de Tour.

Q: Very well! So firstly, why have you decided to go on Erasmus?

A: I’ve always wanted to have an experience abroad and I’ve always thought that the Erasmus Programme was a good opportunity to do so; And to know not only new cultures but also different teaching methods and, of course, to get to know people who are in the same position as me and chose to have the same experience.

Q: And why have you decided to have that experience in France and specifically in Tour? Was it your choice?

A: It wasn’t really my choice because in my course many people want to go on Erasmus so it’s very competitive to get spots. But as soon as I found out that I was placed in Tour, I tried to learn a bit more about the city and the university and I also asked how was the experience of other Portuguese students who also did their Erasmus there and everyone told me that the city had many students and the courses were not that difficult so I finally decided to carry on with my decision and go to Tour.

Q: And how was your overall Erasmus experience?

A: I really liked it! The only thing that did not live up to my expectations was the quality of the teaching and the learning/examination methods. It was frankly worse than what I was used to in my University in Oporto. But I don’t regret at all my choice of going on Erasmus and overall, it was an amazing experience!

Q: What about the cultural differences between France and Portugal? What did you think of that?

A: For me, the major difference was that in Tour on Sundays literally nothing happened, everything was closed: supermarkets, cafes, bars, etc. For French people, Sundays are exclusively for their families, so they just enjoy their day at the parks or they just stay home which is not the case in Portugal, and that was a bit strange for me in the beginning, especially because I was in a foreign country alone, so it was difficult to meet with my friends and enjoy the weekend with them. But apart from that, everything went great!

Q: And the lifestyle in France? Is it cheaper or is it more expensive than in Portugal?

A: I would say that the most expensive things are restaurants, cinemas… that type of services are clearly more expensive, although they also have more variety in that matter than in Portugal. The rest in quite like Portugal: supermarkets, rents, public transports, etc.

Q: Did you travel a lot during your Erasmus, or did you have too much work at the University?

A: Yes, I actually had a lot of free time during those months. In the weekends I would always try to go somewhere; nevertheless, and this is something I forgot to mention in the last question, the trains in France are really expensive, and that was quite sad because I would love to have known more cities in France but it was impossible for me because of this issue. However, all the cities that I’ve been in France were lovely, I really loved to visit them! Finally, I also had the chance to go to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belgium!

Q: Finally, what about the city? What was your impression of Tour? Is it a good place to do Erasmus?

A: Tour is great for students! It’s a city that is known in France for having a wonderful student life, it’s one of the youngest cities in Europe and that really shows! For instance, in the main square in Tour, starting at around 17:30h all the students go there to have a beer or just to hang out and it’s a cool environment. For international students is also really nice, ESN is very dynamic there and does a lot of activities for foreigners.

Q: Would you recommend the Erasmus experience to other people? Why?

A: Yes, of course, and probably everyone who has already done Erasmus will say the same thing. It’s always great to get to know different cultures and it’s super cool to have the experience to live abroad.

Q: Last question, what would be your advice to someone who’s thinking of going on Erasmus but is too afraid of leaving their comfort zones?

A: I would say that in the beginning is always hard and challenging. Of course, it’s scary at first, to be on your own in a different country but people have to think that everyone who’s also on Erasmus is on the exact same position and all of them want to make friends so it eventually gets easier. After the first week, you already have a group of friends! Also, I would vividly recommend people to participate in ESN’s activities, it’s a great way of making new friends!

Interview written by Carolina Ramon da Fonseca

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