Living, Learning, and the Little Things

This week’s post comes from our new ACCENT London Programs Coordinator Ellie O’Driscoll, who studied and worked abroad in France and Italy before joining the ACCENT team!

I’m Ellie, and I am the new Programs Coordinator at the ACCENT London Study Center. For my first blog post, I thought I would write a little something about my experience living in both France and Italy, and a few little nuggets of wisdom that I have picked up from these experiences.

My first major experience studying, living, and working abroad was the year I spent in Bordeaux as part of my degree. As the days and weeks rolled by, life in France became easier and therefore so much more enjoyable, and I was more able to notice the little things about French people and French culture that have made me a confirmed Francophile for life! I appreciate the way the French take their time over meals, both for the pleasure of cooking and eating, and as a wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends! This is the main reason I think France is so famous for its cuisine: good produce means good meals, which in turn means good times.Meal times being sacred is something I found to be similar in Italy too, when I was working as an Intern for an art school in Florence a few years later. While the produce was equally delicious, I found small differences in Italian meal times that differ again from the UK. Meal times tend to be loud, chaotic, and busy in Italy, but can also be quiet and considered, shared over a game of cards or a chat. The best thing I discovered however, was the fact that Italians eat gelato at any and all times of day. I witnessed a woman enjoying a gelato while getting her roots dyed at the hairdresser’s, a man on a bicycle navigating both the traffic and his ice cream cone, and a child at 8am on the way to school tucking into a scoop of cioccolato!

I love this fact about Italian culture because it represents something more fundamental about the European attitude to life. Good food and sweet treats are there to be enjoyed as part of the everyday, to make everyday life just that little bit more special. So if I had one piece of advice for students coming to study abroad in Europe with ACCENT, it would be to try new things and “taste” the idiosyncratic cultures of Europe, as this will ensure the whole experience is that much more interesting and enjoyable. If you observe the little things, you will end up learning a huge amount about the country you choose to go to, and hopefully making lasting connections with the people you meet.

~Ellie O’Driscoll, ACCENT London

Did Ellie’s post inspire you to study abroad and discover the sights, sounds, and tastes of a new culture for yourself? Research your study abroad options at