Renting Abroad as an Exchange Student

This post it going to be very matter of fact and detail the absolute nightmare my housemates and I have had whilst renting on our year abroad. I decided to finally compile a post detailing  some of the issues because I have heard from others studying abroad (especially in France) that students are often taken advantage of by money grabbing landlords who thrive on the fact that our level of French makes it difficult for us to accurately communicate our dissatisfaction. Also, the allegations and level of language thrown at us have been nothing short of insane to the point where all we can do is laugh at how ridiculous the situation has become.

  1. Living with a French landlord and French people in the flat above has culminated in what can only be described as targeted bullying where every single issue in the house is attributed to us. E.g. Noise, doors slamming, the vacuum cleaner being dirty (seriously) in spite of the fact there are nine people that live in this house and we represent just three of them. This has made us feel extremely unwelcome and uncomfortable in the house.
  2. We are sent emails about pretty much anything and everything my landlady decides we have done. Offences include walking loudly, entering the house late etc.
  3. She has tried to charge us extra for water, sending us a formal letter claiming that we have used an excessive amount and we will be charged extra.  However its on a meter system and we haven’t been shown any proof of how much the water actually costs. When we sent a letter asking for proof of this she changed her mind and decided she didn’t send us a bill but it was in fact a ‘warning’.
  4. The emails that she sends us often contain threatening language and are consistently rude and belittling. For example, “JE NE TRADUIS PAS. IL ME MANQUE DES MOTS pour savoir dire ma colère MAIS J’ESPERE QUE CES JEUNES FILLES PRENDRONT LE TEMPS DE TRADUIRE….” and my personal favourite “Mais vous êtes de vrais sauvages !!!.”
  5. Whilst I have not yet moved out I have heard of other students, like my friend Alex who are struggling to regain their deposits from French landlords despite leaving their flats in perfect condition and being assured the deposit will be returned in full.

Realistically, there is no solution to this problem because we all need to find accommodation when studying abroad, and the conditions in student residences are notoriously poor. However we need to raise awareness about the seriousness of this issue; just because we are foreign students does not mean we should be intimidated and taken advantage of financially.



Why I Dropped Out Of University

I hate the term ‘drop out’. Every time someone asks me why I ‘dropped out’ it makes me feel like a failure all over again. Mostly because people just can’t believe it. Why would you leave a top five UK university? From an outside perspective, it just doesn’t make sense. But if my experience taught me anything, it’s that there are hundreds of other students who are probably feeling miserable, inadequate and stressed right now at the thought of another year of academia.

Having studied at a comprehensive school and sixth form I immediately found myself a minority at my university. Although my background is that of the average Brit, the culture shock I experienced is undeniable. Our education system means that a significant proportion of students at the top UK universities are from the 7-8% of the population who are privately educated, which can make an average teenager feel incredibly out of their depth.

As a world -renowned institution, it goes without saying that the university I went to has a competitive environment. However, the sheer level of competition breeds a culture in which students are expected to push themselves to their absolute limit to not only succeed, but also outdo their fellow course mates. It seemed as though mental health disorders such as anxiety were accepted as a normal side effect of being highly functional academically. Excuse me if I’m being radical here but I was raised being taught to value my health and wellbeing over an exam result. Throughout the year I felt unsupported both academically and personally, and the overwhelming attitude I experienced was that struggling to cope equated academic inferiority. Eventually I made the controversial decision to leave, and my life has been all the better for it.