MENTAL HEALTH

A Year in Normandy

What living abroad at 21 taught me

Liam Hunter-Bailey
The Memoirist
Published in
7 min readFeb 25, 2024

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Étretat / Photo by author

As a languages student, a compulsory part of my university degree was to move abroad and spend 7–12 months living in a country that spoke my target language. For me, that was French.

Since high school, I had been interested in becoming a teacher. We had a French language assistant in our school from Paris and I liked him a lot. He was enthusiastic, intelligent, and encouraging. I wanted to do his job.

When I entered university, I knew I would try my hardest to secure a teaching placement. It would be an opportunity for me to be a language assistant for other young people and an opportunity for me to encourage them the way my assistant had encouraged me.

Thankfully, I was successful and I was accepted into the teaching placement programme. I didn’t get to choose which region of France I was allocated as it was all selected randomly. In the end, I received notification that I would be sent to a high school in Le Havre, Normandy.

Initially, I was disappointed. I had hoped to get somewhere in the south of France, like Nice or Aix-en-Provence, as I had visited there before and love the culture of the south; Aix is also renowned for being one of the best places to study French. However, I was thankful to be…

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Liam Hunter-Bailey
The Memoirist

An Irish language lover, writing about productivity, self-improvement, and my travel experiences.