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Patricia Lopez-Lema case study

Hello, or should I say Bonjour! My name is Patricia and I went to Nancy on my Work Experience Abroad, which was an urbanised town in the north-west of France.

For my work placement I was allocated a slot working in a shop which sold objects from traditional Moroccan culture and upon first impressions I loved it! In my shop worked four other French teens and my manager was lovely, as well as the shop itself. Everyone was very understanding and tolerant of me as I often didn’t understand much or took time in answering questions and they would help me out as much as they could. We became such good friends that I even keep in contact now.

Every day I’d wake up at roughly eight for breakfast and would then get ready so that I could get the half nine tram to work as my placement was quite far from the hotel. Then I’d work from 10am until midday. Work in the shop varied. Sometimes I was given cleaning jobs or greeting customers, but mostly I’d work with the others putting out stock or tidying or pricing stock that was already out. Then I’d leave for my two hour lunch break and would get the tram back so I could eat with my friends and chat. I worked from two until seven in the afternoon and then would return to the hotel.

In the evenings we’d go out for dinner, normally to different restaurants to try different French or local cuisine and see more of the area. Activities during the trip included bowling and going to the cinema, but we’d put on our own entertainment and often stay in the hotel and watch films of our own.

In my opinion, this has been the best trip I have ever been on, and that is probably because of the lack of teachers. Our team leaders were very relaxed and very supportive, helping and arranging everything for us, especially on our first days when everything seemed so foreign to us! The freedom of this trip was probably the best aspect for me. You are completely on your own from morning until night, and your ‘survival’ as you could call it is all down to your ability to speak French.

My French has significantly improved, and all my teachers back in England have stated how better my French has gotten from just one week and how much my accent has improved. Socially, the benefits are just endless as you meet so many people from so many different backgrounds and schools. I know I have made great friends, not only from the placement but also from the trip itself and keep in touch with them all over Facebook!

I would most definitely recommend this to any students that are passionate about languages, taking them at A-Level or thinking about them as a future career. You don’t really know a language until you are forced to speak it without any English-speakers around you. It was the best experience I have had until now and I look forward to next year when hopefully I will get the opportunity to experience France again!