HM Hubbard Law Scholarship
Special thanks to the

Rachel J. Roche


Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! The main purpose of which was to keep my friends and family up-to-date with what I was up to during the LL.M. Also includes general ramblings - all views my own. 

Although I have now completed the LL.M I will be keeping the blog active in case it is of any use to anyone wanting to study abroad - to get an idea of how I found it. Of course if you want any "inside info" drop me a line in the Contact tab and Good Luck! 

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New apartment.... and cat

Posted by Rachel J Roche on January 16, 2013 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The first few nights in my new place have been great. I think I’ve been lucky to find this apartment complete with chilled housemate in a city where everyone says finding somewhere to live is by far the most challenging part of the year abroad! The cat (yes, there is a cat who lives here too!) and I had a couple of run-ins, but I think she is starting to warm to me - she actually came and perched on the end of my bed earlier. The first day she hissed constantly and even went for me at one point! I’ve never seen an angry cat before and it was terrifying! My new housemate has given me the broom as protection – so I was walking around with this in my hand until recently – but I think the cat (Tatami) and I are going to be firm friends soon. Although I’m still keeping the broom by my bedroom door just in case!

Since getting back after Christmas it’s been hectic. I have not stopped. We had to hand in a “cas pratique” for company law today and so I have been spending every spare minute writing that up. I know the "droit des societes" book backwards now (or at least that’s how it feels!)… 10 pages of French and a headache later, I think it will be Ok, but we should find out soon.

Exam for administrative law tomorrow - so after a couple of hours break and perhaps a bit of a nap to make up for my lack of sleep, I am going to crack on with that. Wish me luck guys; I am really not looking forward to this one. In fact, I will be more than glad this time tomorrow when it is over.

My sister is coming over tomorrow and she should arrive in perfect time for me to meet her at Gare du Nord after my exam. I think a glass of wine with our late lunch will be in order. And then it’s on to the revision for the contract law exam…

Hope everyone back home is Ok. More updates soon.


I certainly have a lot of material.

Posted by Rachel J Roche on January 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (1)

My friend Caroline has been telling me for weeks (months even) that my stories from the house I share with my current and "interesting" landlady would make excellent fodder for an actual book. Maybe something akin to Stephen Clarke's novel about his year in, erm, Paris! You probably know the one. Well, I can now exclusively reveal that (no, I don't have a book deal) - however, I am moving apartments! This Saturday to be precise! 

No more hilarious stories, but maybe a bit of calm and normality (much to Caroline's disappointment!). Yes, it has become necessary, especially with exams looming, and work coming out of our ears, to have a nice normal housemate and a power shower. The bad hair days were getting me down, down, down... For evidence see the photos tab.

For those of you who haven't been privy to my landlady stories - you'll just have to wait for my book! I'm working on it now! 

New apartment photos to be posted soon! 

Happy New Year!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on January 6, 2013 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I have just arrived back in the 5th after spending the most amazing time with my friends and family over Christmas and the New Year. Unfortunately I was a bit poorly at the start of the holidays but having made sure I’m stocked up with vitamins and vegetables, I should now be fine now (fingers crossed!). The RER from the airport tonight was so much better than when I departed on the 20th December – this time there was no strike thank goodness and it was plain sailing. On the way out before Christmas it was awful. I only got as far as Gare du Nord where the RER terminated. There was only a skeleton service and a man who called himself the “mad scientist” ended up helping me with my heavy suitcase up about 3 flights of stairs with everyone else walking in the other direction – after we had established where we needed to go. I made it by the skin of my teeth (quite literally) onto the train before the doors shut on me; luckily the doors are not as painful as they look! Half my bag was hanging out but I soon managed to pull it in although the train was so packed I nearly pushed everyone over in the process! Had I not made that train I probably wouldn’t have made my flight. The mad scientist had an earlier flight to Poland so I hope he made it!

This week we have lectures mainly in the mornings – starting with a conference it seems on Constitutional Law (although we finished this module last year) and we have a few new courses also starting although I’ll fill you in with those at the end of the week.

I definitely feel refreshed and ready to hit the next three months head on. I can’t deny that it’s daunting with most of the exams still to do, but I will just have to go for it and it’ll be good to see the girls tomorrow and see what everyone has been up to over the last 2 weeks.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year and I’ll post some more updates soon.



Posted by Rachel J Roche on December 17, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Strasbourg was pretty good! We all got back yesterday having taken the TGV from Paris Gare de l’Est. It took only about 2 and a half hours to get there and, despite the heavy rain, it was actually not as cold as Paris has been these last few days. After all the talk of wrapping up warm and making sure we wear seven jumpers, I actually didn’t even need my scarf!


We got into Strasbourg after lunch and checked straight into the hotel before setting off on the tram to the European Court of Human Rights where were watched a short film about the creation and functioning of the Court. We were then luckily enough to have a seminar with Judge Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos who has been a judge at the ECHR since May 2011. He was lovely and answered our many questions before he had to leave to continue his day. He is actually friends with one of our professors who accompanied us on the trip, Madame Anne Rigaux; I get the impression that Mme. Rigaux is very well connected, even bumping into someone she knew on the way back to the hotel before we left to return to Paris the following day.


After the Court, we had a couple of hours to mooch about the Christmas markets which was nice, and each had a glass of hot red wine. There were so many trinkets and Christmas lights everywhere it was almost like a fairytale. Lucky for us, Chen lived in Strasbourg last year for university so was able to be our tour guide!


Dinner on the Friday night with the class (there were six of us in total) was really nice. Now that we have got to know each other better it was really easygoing and laid back. We had the most amazing traditional dishes served to us at the restaurant Le Tire-Buchon and then whilst Alexandra and I opted to take the tram home as it was raining, the others strolled back – although we got in at the same time!


The following day, we were all out of the hotel by 10:30 am and took the opportunity to do a bit more sight-seeing and walking before meeting up with the professors for an early lunch at La Maison des Tanneurs Also known as "Gerwerstub", the Maison des Taneurs was built in 1572; it was formerly a tannery before becoming a restaurant in 1949. It was restored in 1972 for its 4th century anniversary. We were served traditional Alsatian food – the traditional dish of Choucroute – which I really liked although they serve such large portions!


I can’t believe it’s now only 4 more sleeps before I take the flight to Cardiff to go and see Phantom of the Opera with Adam and his family. I can’t wait! Before I get carried away however, we have lots of work to cram in before we break up on Thursday and I have to make sure I leave enough room in my suitcase for my books and folders as we have a few exercises to prepare and to hand in when we get back. 



Strasbourg on Friday!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on December 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

We are mid-way through the week and on Friday we are going to Strasbourg to the European Court of Human Rights and Parliament. It'll also be a great opportunity to take a look at the famous Christmas markets and maybe pick up some cute gifts for back home! 

Half way!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on December 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

We most definitely must be half way through. I know this not just because it’s December, but because I had en email earlier today on behalf of the Trustees asking me for a round-up of how I’ve been getting on. I was expecting this email at the half-way point. I am excited that we are half way and also quite chuffed that I made it this far! The end is in sight and it’s time to crank up the volume and head straight on until morning! (Well, to the end of March when the exams will be over).


Going through all the subjects that we have taken to date and looking back at how much I have learnt, it’s amazing. To think that it’s been just 4 months. I turned up knowing barely anything about how the French legal system works, nor did I really have any idea about French culture it seems but now I have settled in and have got into the ‘French way’ of things.


We break up for Christmas on the 21 December and beforehand, on the 14 December, we are heading to Strasbourg to visit the European Court of Human Rights – we will also have the opportunity to visit the famous Christmas markets which will no doubt get us into the festive spirit before the holidays.


This afternoon I will be preparing for our Company law class tomorrow morning and I also bought a new book on International Private Law on the way back from class today, which I want to get to grips with. This is probably the subject that I was most looking forward to learning as it’s something that I’ve been interested in for a while.


More updates soon.





The Christmas lights are up!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on November 27, 2012 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Paris is looking fairly Christmassy and I like it! Being nearly Christmas means I get to go home in a few short weeks to see family and friends for our two week break, and spend a bit of time out from the mountain of textbooks that I have accumulated.


As a prelude to said Christmas break, I went home last weekend for the first time since I arrived in Paris on the 1 September 2012. I finally got to see our new house and town (which, incidentally, I love) and myself, Adam, my sister Catherine and her boyfriend spent Saturday night at a fabulous restaurant in York which I will definitely be recommending. Needless to say however, two nights in the UK went by ever so quickly, although I did manage to unpack my UK stuff and re-arrange some draws and things for Adam (I hope he didn’t have any trouble finding anything after I left for my flight back!).


My mother also came over recently which was lovely and no doubt once Christmas is out of the way and we are on the home stretch with regard to exams, I will have other visitors who I can show around – now that I know Paris fairly well. I am even getting a dab-hand at giving directions, the requests for which I seem to get every other day! Maybe I am starting to look like a ‘vraie parisienne’.


On the school front, I have thankfully passed the exam for Responsabilité Civile (the mark for which I was dreading as it was a very difficult exam) and am now just awaiting the marks for European Law (the general course) and Constitutional law (the oral exam we had last week).


I am still super happy about securing my internship and I can’t wait to start that. It feels like I have been out of the ‘office world’ for far longer than 4 months although I am sure after a day or so it will be as if I had never taken any time out at all.


Right, I had better get back to it. I have a ‘cas pratique’ for contact law to get done by Thursday and some formalities for my internship to write and send out. I also want to go through what we did this morning for our new Competition Law class and try to work out what we are doing tomorrow as no one has received the timetable for this week so it’s a bit of a guessing game!


More updates soon.





Coming home on Friday for the weekend!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on November 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

We had our Constitutional law exam yesterday! An oral exam of all of 20 minutes would be a breeze in English of course, but this is a French course so, well, it was in French and the French political and legal system is nothing like ours in the UK!!


Anyway, yesterday morning I was up at 5:30am re-reading through my notes that I had been through in the company of fellow reviser Caroline for the 100th time the night before and then I had to hot-foot it over to Opéra for 9am where we had our first lesson in European Competition Law held in the plush meeting room at a rather swanky law firm. It definitely made a change from the drab building on over by Metro Saint-Paul and next week I am definitely using the coffee machine and stealing the branded pen!


After we had stopped for lunch on the way back to our usual building, a few of us (including me) hid in the library for a few hours until it was our turn to take the exam. We had 15 minutes to prepare a question picked at random (using only an un-annotated copy of the Constitution) and then a 20 minute grilling on said question together with anything else the professor thought up. I had a question on the QPC (question prioritaire de constitutionnalité;) where litigants can ask the Conseil Constitutionnel whether a law is in line with the constitution – and then I was asked a series of questions ranging from the responsibility of the President of the Republic, immunity, a comparison with the role of the PM in the UK, the composition of the French government and a few other things. Needless to say the 20 minutes passed very quickly, I just hope I did enough to get through. We have no idea when the results will be available, for this or for our exam in Civil Responsibility or European Law – maybe they will keep us in suspense until Christmas, or maybe until the end of the course!


It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow – not a holiday I have ever celebrated before – but Caroline and Meghan are, of course, having a soriée! I am the designated dessert bearer and I can’t wait to see the fruits of Caroline’s cooking!


And then, I am coming back to the UK on Friday for the weekend. Haven’t been home since I got her (three months ago) so I am so excited about that, it’s going to be a great weekend!


The last few weeks

Posted by Rachel J Roche on November 13, 2012 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

If I can tell you one thing, it is that the University Paris 1 is not only a law school but a life school! Whilst I am most certainly learning a lot about French and European Law (of course) I am also learning a fair bit about myself and about other people too. By that I mean other people generally, mainly the French and no one specific – although of course, now that the 12 of us students have been together for two and a half months, we probably have the measure of each other by now as well.


Anyway, the last 3-4 weeks have been a rollercoaster as per. The work load goes from crazy busy one minute to manageable the next but it is all part of the learning curve. My French is improving – of that I am sure, although my French advocacy skills leave a little to be desired. We had to represent our respective clients in our Business law class last week and I still need to work on my confidence but on the upside, my exposé for the same class on ‘les Administrateurs Provisoire’ scored a decent 16 out of 20 which by French standards means I am a genius!

We had a visit to the Conseil d'Etat at the beginning of October which was interesting - it's France's highest administrative Court. I'll post some photos from that soon.   

We then had an exam in Droit de la Responsabilité civile a week or two ago… (tort/civil law) and we get the results for this on Friday. I am quaking in my boots but I’ll stop right there and update you further when I know the outcome. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me please.

It was also our very last lesson with Mme. Pingel for Droit de l’Union Europeen today where Meghan and I presented another exposé on the European Court of Justice case of Commission v. Italie November 2011 (Affaire C-379/10). We are all waiting on our final marks for this class but we are not sure when they will be available yet.

Exam for Constitutional law in 7 days. Wow that came round fast. 

Then we had a field trip to Brussels to visit the European Commission last weekend. We had a talk from a section of the legal department which was really informative (about food health and safety laws) and their role within the Commission itself, and then all went out for a meal (students and professors alike) before retreating back to the hotel for much needed rest. The train is remarkably quick to Brussels from here although I am afraid that I did find Belgium a little dreary and the coffee was strong enough to blow your head off.


Finally, I should let you know that after sending out a few letters and CVs requesting an internship last month I have been offered the required 3 month ‘stage’ following an interview last week with a much respected firm who has a tie-up with a large well known multinational professional services firm headquarted in London. I am 'très contente’.


All in all, whilst it’s been a hair raising ride (to say the least) maybe it will turn out Ok in the end after all!


More updates soon.


Polyglot Club

Posted by Rachel J Roche on October 26, 2012 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

This evening I went to a polyglot club soiree that my friend Montanna told me about - 

These events are basically a language swap - we spent the first hour speaking English and the following hour speaking French. There were people from all over the world and the whole idea is to practice your chosen language with native speakers. It's fairly informal and such a good idea, not least because we are all there for the same reason - to learn!

I met such a diverse group of people - as well as a French solicitor of course. I can't seem to step out of the house without bumping into an 'avocat'. This is hopefully a sign that I am in the right profession although maybe us legal types just gravitate towards eachother!

I will definitely be going to another one of their evenings which are held a couple of times a week. 

Long awaited update...

Posted by Rachel J Roche on October 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (1)

If you are one of my friends and family, you will have noticed that I have haven’t updated my blog for a little while… and you will also know that this is mainly because we have been super busy – to list a few of the recent events, we have visited the Cour de Cassation (the French highest court of appeal that deals with points of law rather than fact), we have also visited the Conseil d’Etat which is the highest administrative court in France (dealing with, inter alia, disputes between citizens and the state). There have been trips to libraries (there are always queues to get in!) and trips to starbucks for much needed coffees! We have had a number of birthdays (students’ and professors’) a few rendezvous on the odd Friday night, much walking and, above all, lots of studying.


Everyone is working really hard, me included. We have spent hours upon hours reading through countless Arrets (judgements) from the Cour de Cassation, been learning about the French Fifth Republic, the intricacies of European law, trying to commit to memory both the judicial and administrative system and have also been learning about the totally different systems of contract law, company law and civil responsibility. Needless to say, much of the content is in stark contrast to the system in England and Wales which is based on a common law system (as opposed to here in France, which is a civil law system).


The numerous books we have been given is daunting but now that we have all of our study materials and our much anticipated student cards, I think we are getting into the swing of things.


As a side issue, it is very interesting to note the frequency of which we end up talking about politics in class, and I have been fascinated to learn about some of the general differences in the way of life here compared to other countries which may not be initially very obvious. Mainly these topics come up in our Constitutional law class which is held on a Monday. For example, the French have no statistics on diversity or religion and discussion in this area is quite taboo – although they have had the equivalent of the civil partnerships for a lot longer than many other countries in the EU, and even the world, and offer the same rights to ‘PACS’ (civil partnerships) as they do to married couples. In some respects the French are streets ahead of other countries, in terms of the rights afforded to their citizens.


Living practically next door to Le Pantheon, I have also noticed a number of marches and demonstrations – there is a lot of debate at the moment of course about the EU crises and unemployment. There is a bill going through at the moment (which should be approved shortly) regarding ap’prenticeships for graduates. The idea of course is to make it easier for students to get into professional or vocations jobs to alleviate the number of unemployed in the long term.


With regard to my French, I know that I have made huge progress although there is quite a way to go and certainly no time to take my foot off the brake! I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to meet a French student who is currently taking an internship at a French law firm. She is great for talking legal issues to and is an absolute fountain of knowledge. I am sure she would make a great teacher!


Adam managed to come over the other weekend which was great. We found a lovely Moroccan restaurant nearby on his last night which I’d love to go to again. Two weeks later Abby (who used to live in my little room here) and her husband made a visit and it was great to be able to chat to them about the quirks of living in this apartment!


In the coming weeks, I have an exposé (oral presentation) on company law which is being graded, an exam on the 2 November for civil responsibility and the final exam for constitutional law.


I have booked flights to come home for the weekend in November and I can’t wait to see our new house for the first time!


Hope everyone is well back at home and I will talk to you soon.



Week beginning 10 September 2012

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 19, 2012 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We started our main subjects this week (after mainly introductions last week) – and, thankfully we have slightly shorter days, which is a relief as I’m not sure we could have all kept up the pace of the first week although obviously this is where the real work starts...! We have constitutional law with (Mme. Benetti) on Mondays, European Union Law (Mme. Pingel) Tuesday. Wednesday we then have French in the morning followed by Company Law (M. Lecourt). Thursday and Friday sees Contract Law (M. Heymann), Administration Law (M. Soldini) and then Civil Responsibility (M. Sindres). I find the classes get more and more demanding as the week progresses – and come Friday last week my confidence was pretty much shot… That said, it’s onwards and upwards! We have plenty of work to do and various talks in front of the class to prepare for in the coming weeks so I can’t be moping around or stressing about it!

With regard to the internships I am hoping that we will get to speak to the Director of the program and thereafter send out our CVs really soon and certainly by the end of the week. I had an email this week requesting my details for consideration and I don’t want to keep anyone waiting. We are also still waiting for our student cards which will enable us to use the student facilities (library, printers… and get a discount of the metro!) so we are all hoping that those will materialise soon too.

This weekend was the weekend of ‘Patrimoine’ – that is when various buildings and places of cultural interest are open to the public (usually for free). For example, the Sénat (the upper house of the French Parliament) which is located in Jardin du Luxembourg (at the end of my road) was open and I could have visited it for free…… however, I spent all weekend with my head in my books (mainly the dictionary…). I will make sure I do all the sights when I can though and perhaps the sightseeing is more suited for when I have people over to show around anyway. Meghan and I visited the Jardin on Sunday however and sat in the sun with a cold drink chatting for an hour or so; it was a gloriously sunny day and I bought a Nutella Crepe on the way home oops. The place was packed.  I feel so lucky that I am in the best area of the city, the views and places of importance (and all the pretty buildings…) are right outside! Some of the gang went out on the weekend but I decided to stay at home so I could get some much needed rest - it was therefore a fairly uneventful week in terms of socilising and living the high life (!) but exactly what I needed.

So that’s the end of week two. In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve been here for ages – especially as I have not seen our new house in the UK yet! I don’t think I’ll get home before November at the earliest – and maybe not until Christmas, but Adam will be popping over soon for a couple of days and so I am really looking forward to that! It has been weeks since we saw each other as he was away for 3 weeks before I came out here.

Have a great week everyone and I'll update you again soon. 


Mecredi... les jours passent assez vite

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 12, 2012 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Bonjour à tous.

Nous avons aujourd’hui commencé droit des sociétés avec Monsieur Benoit Lecourt qui a écrit beaucoup des livres et articles dans ce domaine. Il est bien connu je crois. Ce matin nous avons eu un cours avec Madame Lazerge pour améliorer nos connaissances de la langue française et pour élargir nos vocabulaires juridiques.

Demain nous avons deux cours droit des contrats et droit administratif.

C’est fatigant mais très intéressant même que je perde du temps avec ma tête dans le dictionnaire juridique ! Je souhaite que le travail devient plus facile dans quelque semaines…


Fin de la premiere semaine...

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 9, 2012 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s Sunday and this week has been a rollercoaster. I was so pleased when Friday afternoon came around because I was so tired, my brain was fried and my eyes stinging. The course is certainly full on and there is a lot of work, but I’m determined to keep at it and do my absolute best. I think I am having a bit more difficulty than I would perhaps like to admit on the language front, but then it’s only one week in and I know I can’t expect miracles just yet!


As for the content of the course, it’s really interesting. We have had a general introduction to the French legal system and methodology this week and next week we start on Constitutional Law, European Union Law, Contract, Administration and Company law. I managed to find a French/English legal dictionary on Friday which I think will help me a great deal in the coming weeks. It’s Harrap’s Dictionnaire Juridique. The guys in the book shop were really helpful and two of the main book shops are located just around the corner from me, as is the library where no doubt I’ll be spending lots of time in the months ahead! We should be getting our student cards soon which will let us use some of the student services. There is also another larger dictionary which I might buy depending on how I get on and that one is Dictionnaire Juridique et Economique by Laroche Baleyte but it’s pretty large and I don’t think I fancy lugging it to and from class just at the moment. I think the smaller dictionary will keep me going for now!


My walk to and from the university is really pretty, I cross the Seine and walk right past the Notre Dame every morning and afternoon (dodging the hundreds of tourists and their cameras – I bet I’m in so many snaps as I walk right in front of everyone.. haha). It takes me about 20 minutes which is probably less time than if I took the tube as I’d have to change twice – at Chatelet and then again at Gare de Lyon. It’s been really mild weather wise and so for as long as it doesn’t rain cats and dogs, I’m perfectly happy walking – not to mention the fact that it’s good exercise! In fact, I think I’ve lost about half a stone already with all the stress from this week!


For lunch, we tend to mainly stick together. On Tuesday for example, we all went to this American Breakfast place which was nice and then on other days, some of us might go to Starbucks or grab a sandwich at the Monoprix whilst chatting amongst ourselves. We get up to two hours for lunch which is quite a long time but it means that if any of us have anything to do in the day, such as go to the bank or something then we have plenty of time to do it without worrying that we are going to be late back. When all sat around chatting, I can’t help thinking that it must sound hilarious to some locals as we all have such varied accents, but we don’t speak English (or any other language for that matter) at all during the day so it’s the only way to communicate with each other!


On Friday afternoon, our French teacher Madame Lazerges took us on a tour of La Sorbonne which was steeped in history and pretty impressive! I got some good photos which I’ll post. I was really grateful for a chilled afternoon wondering around the building after all the hours of classes that we have had. I think we were all a bit shattered come the end of the week.


And then in the evening on Friday, the American girls Caroline and Meghan kindly invited us to their apartment for drinks and it was a really good night and we definitely deserved to let our hair down after our first week! I ended up staying the night on the spare bed in Meghan’s room save me walking home as it was pretty late (thanks Megs!) and then yesterday I just chilled out back at mine. My brain still hurts but there is a lot to do so I can’t have another day off! I have to get cracking with reading through the work we are going to tackle on Constitutional Law tomorrow – I also want to recap what we have done this week - and fire off some emails regarding finding a work placement at the end of the course. I’ve been very lucky and had some great pointers from a couple of my contacts on LinkedIn which I really want to follow up.


Adam is now home in the UK so we have been able to Skype a few times this week which has been great. I’m also really grateful to all my friends back home who have been messaging and emailing me. If I’ve not got back to you just yet, I haven’t forgotten it’s just been a bit crazy but I’ll give you a ring soon. I was missing home a bit on Tuesday night but I’m Ok now although I don’t think I’m going to be able to get home to see our new house until the beginning of November when we get a couple of days off for Toussaint (All Saints Day). I think Alexandra is going to come to London that weekend to see some friends of hers who are studying there, so we can travel back together on the Eurostar which will be cool.


All in all, a pretty stressful week but next week’s timetable is a little more kind so hopefully it will be Ok!






La rentree a l'ecole - First day in class!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 3, 2012 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s 4:15 pm and I am back at the apartment already. Goodness me, having been so worried about this day, it has come and gone so quickly and it was actually really good! We are seven in total in the class although I understand that we have another student joining us from next week. We have students from Spain, Greece and China amongst other countries. Everyone is lovely and one of the girls has a baby on the way which is quite exciting. I think I am pretty much the eldest, but not by that much; the majority are in their early to mid-20s. Mme Divol seems really approachable and, as I’ve read on various blogs from alumni over the past few weeks, I agree with the impression that she really does take a great interest in all of her students and will help us as much as she can.

We had a general introduction to studying law in France in the morning, and then in the afternoon a short discussion about drafting our CVs and covering letters to obtain a work placement at the end of the 7 months of study. We are getting our requests in to the various firms and institutions quickly which is what I hoped we would do as there is so much competition. Homework this evening is to read a section of our book ‘Introduction Generale au Systeme Juridique Francais et la Methodologie’ and start thinking about our work placement applications which need to be in by the end of the week.

Most of us spent lunchtime chatting in Starbucks which is just around the corner from class and I’m sure in no time we will get to know each other quite well and be like a little family – just like the Directrice says.

P.S. For those of you who are wondering, I did find a Monoprix on the way home and have stocked up on cleaning products! 


Dimanche - rien n'est ouvert en ville...

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I went jogging in the Jardin du Luxembourg this morning! It’s one of the most popular places in the city for jogging and there were plenty of people about despite it being a Sunday when most shops are closed. I really wanted to get some good cleaning products for the bathroom and some antibacterial wipes for my desk and stuff, but I had to make the best of the small bit of bathroom cleaner that I found and some sponges I had bought yesterday to clean around a bit. If there is one thing I have learnt about myself already is that I am a bit of a clean freak! Please let them do Dettol antibacterial wipes at the Monoprix tomorrow!

Later on, I went back to the Jardin to enjoy and amazing Italian Panini and to soak up the atmosphere. I nearly got my eye taken out however by a rogue pigeon who flew pretty much directly at my head having been egged on by some rather annoying boy and his older friend. Needless to say, I decided to come back to the apartment shortly after to catch up with some friends online and to try to relax before the big day tomorrow. I can’t wait to find out who’s in my class!



First Day! (Saturday)

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (3)

Ok, so I have arrived! Despite my concern about the size of my luggage and how I was going to be able to transport it, the journey was surprisingly easy! I got a couple of comments on the way… from the taxi driver who suggested I should have brought 2 smaller cases, the check-in guy who couldn’t believe I bought the case in England as apparently we don’t sell cases that big, and then of course the middle-aged man who asked if I had a body in there! Perhaps I should have hidden Adam in there – I’d love it if he had come with me! Hopefully he'll be able to come over in the next 2-3 weeks. 

My friend Charlotte dropped me at the station and waited with me until I boarded to Paddington (thanks Lottie!); unfortunately, Adam couldn’t come with me as he’s still abroad. It was super easy with the taxi straight to St Pancras and then onto La France! The Eurostar was pretty good although I expected something a bit more luxurious (I’ve no idea why). Perhaps because I assumed it would be a bit nicer than First Great Western or perhaps I had some romantic idea that we were going to have waiter service en route or something, but it was just chock full of miserable looking people eating horrible smelly sandwiches (why do people do that in confined spaces?!?!). In fact, it wasn’t anything special. Oh, and don’t bother with the coffee, it’s gross – although I did get a complimentary party size twix with mine! I rested my eyes for a bit and before I knew it, we had arrived.

At Gare du Nord I took a taxi straight away to the apartment. No faffing about. The taxi driver was really nice and wished me lots of luck. He said that Paris was quiet until about 3 pm whereupon everyone returned from their holidays en masse. There were certainly more cars on the road than at the beginning of August when I was here with Becky.

The room is exactly as I remembered and I couldn’t wait to unpack and make the place a little bit more my own. There is so much furniture in this room, 4 chairs, 5 tables and 5 lamps – not to mention all the vases, pots, and even dried flowers! Oh gosh, whilst writing this I’ve just noticed some pretend fruit as well! What on earth?! I’ve hidden the dried flowers up high on the bookcase out of sight! The pretend fruit can stay – it’s some grapes trying to look like they are growing around the window - I don't think I can get away with hiding those as well… After unpacking, I went to the supermarket to get a few things to eat for later. The Internet wasn’t working for a bit – I had a mild panic about this but managed to fix it after a little while and suddenly I was connected to the world again! Phew. I slept like a log. The bed is so comfy. 


It's the day before departure!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on September 1, 2012 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (4)

I am not freaking out, I am not freaking out..! hehe. I’m fairly calm, the suitcase has been wrestled downstairs and is nearly packed and I just have a few last minute chores to do like clean the fridge and vacuum (all very exciting) before I am ready to leave in the morning! My friend Charlotte is coming round tonight for dinner and I have managed to see loads of the girls over the last week or so which has been great! We had a bit of a get-together with about 12 of us friends last weekend and my sister-in-law came to stay and even treated me to a massage at Hotel Du Vin on the Sunday which was amazing. I’m going to miss everyone but with Skype, Facebook, Emails and all the rest of the ways we can contact each other, I’ll be able to speak to them whenever I like really! Not like when I did six months in France 20 years ago as a shy 11 year old with no knowledge of French whatsoever! That was hard. That was way before the days of email and internet (wow that sounds strange) and going to school not knowing anyone at that age was certainly character building! Obviously I know no one who will be on my course from Monday but I’m much older and wiser now (or so I am telling myself) so how bad can it be…?!

I’ve had such a lovely day. I spent the morning cleaning up the house and finalising my packing, I popped into town and then spent some time with my friend Serena who lives on the same street as me with her 2 adorable children, one new born and a 2 year old. In the afternoon, I then pottered around some more and Charlotte came round for dinner and a bottle of something fizzy. Had such a cool night catching up and she’s going to come back tomorrow morning to take me to the station! I can’t believe that I am really going!

Suitcase packed. On y va alors!




Two weeks to go!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 19, 2012 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s now only 2 weeks to go before the start of the year at the Sorbonne. After what seems like quite a while since I embarked on my application to get there, it’s now only a matter of days before I actually start! I am slightly nervous, but very much excited! It’s mine and Adam’s last day in Cheltenham together today as he flies to Oman in the early hours tomorrow and by the time he returns, I will be gone. We spent the day chilling out at home in the morning with homemade croissants which Adam made (yum) and then we took a walk on Cleeve Hill which was lovely. There were a lot of sheep (and sheep poo!) on the hill and quite a lot of people walking their dogs and some having picnics – We got some cool photos! Check out the photo tab to have a look.

Faites attention on the Metro!

Posted by Rachel J Roche on August 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Becky and I went on the Metro quite a few times over our weekend and it’s a brilliant way to get around. On one occasion however, some American tourists came close to being pickpocketed by a group of girls whilst getting on the train. After being shouted at by some guys who noticed before it was too late, the girls promptly left the train but simply went to sit back down on the bench at the station, presumably to wait for another target. It’s awful, but you have to be so careful. I’ve since bought myself an over-the-shoulder handbag and will be extra vigilant when I'm next travelling around the city. 

Here are my top tips for helping you avoid being a victim of a pickpocket:

1. Only take what you need and avoid taking too much cash

2. Use a bag which fastens properly (e.g. with a zip) and put valuables in an inside pocket which also fastens – a cross body bag is better than a bag which goes only over one shoulder

3. Be extra vigilant in crowded and tourist destinations (e.g. the Metro and around the Eiffel Tower etc.) and remember that pickpockets usually operate in groups

4. Beware of distractions and people asking for assistance with cash machines or anything which appears a little out of the ordinary. I was scammed a couple of years ago in Paris by a little old lady no less! She only took me for 10 euros but I was still a bit miffed!

There is plenty of additional advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, including, if you do fall victim to a pickpocket or any other crime, first contact the local police and then the UK Embassy if you need, for example, to make arrangements for a temporary passport if yours has been lost or stolen.

Although you have to be careful, Paris is generally a safe city so happy travelling!