By: Maria Gabriela Rivera Monterrosa, University of Victoria, winner of the spring 2020 BC Study Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: France
As someone who grew up dreaming of living in Europe for at least a semester, I was sure that if given the opportunity I’d definitely pick a major city–like Paris, Milan or London. To everyone’s surprise, when the opportunity arrived and I had to pick a city to go on exchange in, I ended up picking a small French city over Paris.
The city I picked is called Reims: a city that is just a short forty-five minute train ride from Paris with a population of fewer than three-hundred thousand people. Famous for being home to some of the most famous champagne houses in the world and its historical importance in French history, Reims’ charm swayed me and it has shown me that I made the right choice by picking a small city. The reasons to pick a small city for exchange are many, but the following are my top four:
- You are more likely to learn the language: If you are learning a new language, a smaller city offers you more opportunities to practice. Bigger cities often have people from all over the world living in them, which means that there are more chances to find people that speak English; even though this might come in handy, it will not force you to try and speak the language you are trying to acquire.
- You are more likely to live like the locals: Smaller cities tend to have fewer tourists and expats, which means they are often less commercial and less geared towards tourists. This means that you are more likely to experience the true practices and traditions of a country.
- You are more likely to travel: Despite smaller cities being so charming, they do tend to get “boring” quickly–don’t get me wrong they are never boring, but the newness wears out fairly easily. This is not necessarily a bad thing: having seen most of it, will leave you wanting to see more so you will be more likely to leave your small city and travel.
- You are more likely to save money: Another pro that comes with living in a smaller city is the lower cost of living. Major cities like Paris and London are always in demand, which makes them more expensive. For example, a studio in a student residence in Paris goes for about 800euros, almost double what it would cost in Reims. Having lower costs of living can make it more feasible for you to go on exchange, or it could even mean that you have that extra money to travel!