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Beth Bradley

MMath, BSc Mathematics (International)

Why did you decide to undertake a study abroad year?
When I was deciding what to study at university, it was a toss-up between French and Maths. I really love the French language but I decided to do maths because I felt I was better at it and chose to come to Leeds because there was the possibility I could go to study in France for a year.

What attracted you to Toulouse?
I had the option to go to either Paris or Toulouse and I chose Toulouse because I’d heard good things about the university and it is a huge student city, there seemed to be very few people over thirty there. Toulouse is smaller than Paris so I got to know the city quite well and I think the University in Paris is further away from the city centre.

Did you struggle with the language when you got there? 
To help with the language barrier I picked up a post A-level French module in second year as an elective to help me refresh the language. I was still quite rusty when I got there but I learnt as I went along. The University also offered a week long session of French lessons when you first arrive for international students. 

How different was the teaching and course structure at University of Toulouse?
The French university system seems to be more like a continuation of school than here.  You are in classes 9 – 5 every day and the classes are much smaller, more like school lessons than lectures, I think the largest class size we had was around 40. I took some second year and third year modules in things such as numerical analysis and computer based modules which used MATLAB. 

How would you describe student life in Toulouse?
It was quite a big campus with a restaurant in the middle and a few coffee shops around campus. There wasn’t really a big union like in Leeds but the uni was really strong on sport; I played tennis and was part of one of the uni basketball teams for the year which was really fun.  I am on the basketball team in Leeds as well, but because basketball isn’t that popular here, there are only a few of us but it is really popular in France so there were numerous teams and a lot of people to meet. 

The public transport in Toulouse is incredible, for students it only costs 10 euros a month for unlimited travel and Toulouse is completely flat and they have the equivalent to Boris bikes

Was there a lot to see and do outside of studying?
Toulouse is very much a student city so there are lots of things going on in the and the nightlife is great, along the river there are loads of bars and it’s really lively down there. I had a job in a pub whilst I was there which was really good fun. I got to meet loads of people outside of uni and it really helped me improve my French. I really appreciated my job because it got me out and about much more and I got to experience Toulouse in a different way. 

Did you get the chance to do any traveling whilst you were there? 
I went to the Pyrenees on a uni ski trip. Ski trips were organised every Saturday between January and April which were amazing, for 36 euros you got an all-inclusive trip, ski hire, travel there and back and a lift pass for the day.  I also went to beach a couple of times and Monpelou was really close by train and has amazing beaches.

What skills do you feel you gained from doing the study abroad year?
Definitely independence and adaptability because you get there and you don’t know anyone and just have to get on with it and learn a new language but it think challenging yourself with a new language is really good

Would you recommend doing a year abroad?
I really liked Toulouse; I would definitely go back and visit. I would definitely recommend doing the year abroad, if you want to challenge yourself and learn about a different culture whilst continuing your studies.  You learn so much and that experience, and the language skills will stay with you for the rest of your life and employers really like to see it on your CV. They are impressed that you’ve gone out on your own, learnt a new language whilst.