Year in Toulouse: What Grinded My Gears and What Loosened Them


I had a fantastic time abroad in Toulouse, France. A few ups and a few downs are always to be expected. Here’s what I found…

Shush, let the train speak!

One of the first things I noticed when coming back to England was the noise on transport. There’s no huge volume difference between rosbifs and the French but when your native language is around you, you can easily find yourself eavesdropping (without want) on conversations such as Stacey’s great new STI from Málaga or the amount of VK’s in Daniel’s bloodstream last night. When surrounded by a second language, it’s a whole lot easier to zone out which makes moving around town a lot more enjoyable. Also the Toulouse metro is transparent, so you’re basically on a rollercoaster on your commute. Pretty motivating.

I am not a language lemon.

Whenever trying to speak French to a French person they will 9 times out of 10 speak back to you in English. I’ve found this to be more them trying to improve their English rather than helping you communicate. It seems as soon as they discover your English blood, it’s like BOOM! Boy, am I gonna squeeze some language juice outta this guy! So I recommend if you’re going abroad be strong out there folks, do not speak English under any circumstances. You’ll thank me later.

Credit: Ben Lieu Song, Flickr [Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

So after thirty minutes waiting, it finally pulls up… the beautiful 83 bus to Entiore (my campus). You can feel you pulse quickening. As people start getting on, what looks orderly quickly turns into some very ugly queuing. Very ugly indeed. You’re looking into the eyes of every person who passes, surely there MUST be some manners deep within. The eyes are void of manners, just pure cold yearning for that 83. You finally make it into the infamous bus but you find that the students have turned into sardines in a can awaiting their fate at Toulouse Business School. The only entertainment is when some unfortunate local has to wade through all the sardine students to get off on some rogue stop.

Credit: Selena Hamilton

Let’s get drunk.

As beautiful as street vomiting can be, I have enjoyed the more chilled approach to ethanol here. I think we can take a leaf or two from the French book i.e. a few beers by the river rather than 80 euros on Jagerbombs in one night (true story). The drinks themselves deserve a mention too. Pastis, yes you Pastis with your cloudy beauty! For those who don’t know, Pastis is liquid liquorice gold with a plethora of advantages over other drinks such as unlimited mixer (water!) and the fact you can see how strong a Pastis drink is by the colour. Get27 is basically alcoholic mouthwash and we should start importing it right NOW. Finally, wine. Even cheap French wine was very kind on the palate. Aucune surprise là

English offer good food, je te promets.

Don’t get me wrong, French food is absolutely delicious. Gratin dauphinois is better than mum’s spaghetti. And the French are definitely better at cooking than rosbifs… However, what I did miss was the variety that British food offers. We get a lot of stick for having crap cuisine but while actual English food might not be great (chip butty), the multi-ethnic food we offer gives those taste buds a nice flavoursome massage. Halloumi (a vegetarian’s staple food item) for one, is very hard to find in France. A good curry also is harder to find in France than an unused ashtray. Other missed items were baked beans, marmite and peanut butter. Although you can get your greasy mitts on them, it’ll cost you a fair buck or two. They do, however, have Speculoos (A.K.A biscoff or the world’s greatest spread) so I actually have no complaints whatsoever and take back anything I said.

More articles in Studying Abroad Week
  1. Year in Toulouse: What Grinded My Gears and What Loosened Them
  2. Studying Abroad: Interview With Ruth Law, Southampton University Study Abroad And Exchange Manager
  3. Staples for Your Wardrobe Whilst You’re Studying Abroad
  4. The Nitty-Gritty of Studying Abroad
  5. Must-Haves to Pack For Your Year Abroad
  6. The Year Abroad Blog: How Accurate Really Is It?
  7. How Should I Contact Others On My Year Abroad?
  8. Studying Abroad Week: The Key Lessons I Learned While on My Year Abroad

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