When I was placed in Angers for my year abroad destination I looked it up on Google, as you do, and thought that it looked really nice. I didn’t do much more research, but was happy that it seemed like a pleasant place to live. When I arrived I also had a really positive impression, and loved that it had some interesting history and architecture (castle, cathedral etc.) but was also a student city with a fair amount going on.
It is only recently, however, that it is dawning on me how great my city is! Somebody told me that a few years ago Angers came top in a survey about cities in France where ‘it feels good to live’, which makes me feel very lucky to be here. If that wasn’t enough, I found out that Angers’ light rail tramway has won prizes! I never would have thought that I would care about how a tram works, but the tram was awarded ‘worldwide project of the year’, and it’s pretty cool to have something in your city which has won global recognition! The track is grassed over to minimise noise and to give it a more attractive appearance, and it is certainly true that it runs very quietly, as well as efficiently. Additionally, this has made me think more about my life and home in England. I was born and also study in Oxford and have, again, always appreciated that it is a lovely city to live in. It has always been popular with tourists and I have grown used to this, but recently it featured on a British reality game show, ‘The Apprentice’, and was chosen as the city to visit with tourists as part of a coach tour. This made me realise how it really is an amazingly popular city! They also went to Blenheim Palace, which also has a more personal link for me as I work there in the gift shop.
It is easy to grow accustomed to the area that you live in, but being on my year abroad has made me take a step back and appreciate how lucky I am. When I hear other people’s horror stories about their year abroad, I feel very fortunate to have been placed in such an amazing city, and to have a fantastic place to look forward to going back home to.