There is certainly going to be a lot to take in the first few days of your French language course in Montpellier and the days running up to it can be a slightly stressful time with what can feel like a ton of things to organise and execute. These things are often only complicated in our minds and after you’re here, settled and into the flow of learning French you will probably chuckle to yourself about how difficult it seemed. So to help you smash the initial journey and get off to a Usain Bolt beginning here is a breakdown of what to expect and tips on what to do to put your mind at ease.
Tips if you have chosen a Student Residence in Montpellier
You will receive the info on whichever lovely student residence you have been allocated during your French immersion stay via email a couple of weeks before you arrive in Montpellier. Don’t mess about, make use of this. You will be sent detailed instructions on getting from whichever drop off point (bus stop, train station, airport) to the student residence in Montpellier. If this sounds scary because you haven’t spoken a word of French in your life fear not! As with almost any city the industries built around travel or tourism are brimming with friendly, multi-lingual staff. These warm French folks are literally there to help people like us, it’s not like the only tourists coming into Montpellier are French, you might not have seen it yet but this gorgeous picturesque slice of France attracts people from the entire world. So these saints of weary travellers are often a person first EVER brush with the French tongue; they have probably spoken to heaps of people from further away and with less transferable knowledge. What transferable knowledge? You speak English. How do I know this you ask? Ahhh well the answer is that not only am I immensely intelligent but I also have an intuitive knowledge of these things. A bit like a Jedi, an immensely intelligent Jedi. Not only is English the most commonly spoken language in the tourism trade it shares many words with French. So even if you speak to someone who doesn’t know English you will probably be able to communicate a good chunk of words here or there if you speak clearly and simply.
Failing this you can utilise the email sent through to you by the school which has instructions in both French and English. Using the old technique of holding your phone or printout and pointing to it is a useful failsafe. In this case the more information you have prior to your French language immersion stay the better. If you really feel you won’t be able to communicate, having lots of information about your intended journey is useful as you can just show it to the professionals and most of the time they can piece together what you need to do. For instance if you are asking someone about the bus getting a ticket price beforehand is great as you can have it ready to go and won’t have to fumble about for change when the bus driver says a loads of words that go right over your head.
A Few Notes on Tram in Montpellier
One very useful thing for fresh French students is that the tram system in Montpellier is AWESOME. You can get within a 5 minute walk of practically anywhere in Montpellier, it is the beating heart of this town and its arteries permeate deep into every limb of every district. Now although the point of a French immersion stay is to throw yourself into it without hesitation, a technique I strongly recommend, if after a long journey you just want to get where you are going the tram ticket machines can be switched to English by just pressing the big friendly looking Union Jack (British Flag 🇬🇧 ) on the main screen.
Tips if you stay with a French Host Family in Montpellier
If you are staying with a French host family the process is even easier. They will have agreed to pick you up as part of the arrangement and you will receive their contact information from the EasyFrench language school a fortnight in advance. So get in touch! Google translate is available to help you piece together an initial email but just forwarding your ticket information, in whatever form, will allow them to see exactly when, where and how you will arrive. If they have the official info it is also easy for them to check if there are any delays etc.
After that sit back and relax…. You have done it! Congratulations; get comfy in your room and rest for the earlier start of your French course the next day. What happens on the first day at the EasyFrench immersion school? We’ll cover that in depth in another article, for now enjoy the satisfaction of beginning the wonderful experience of a French immersion course in Montpellier. You won’t regret it.