Life and Study in France vs Study in the UK

For our next  Campus Jobs blog we wanted to catch up with one of our helpdesk team Tom Lumley who has lived in France since the age of 10, but returned to the UK in 2018 to do his BSc Economics degree.

Picture of Campus Jobs Team
Campus Jobs Team Photo – Tom can be seen back centre

So Tom…Tell us a bit about yourself!

My names Tom, I am 21 years old and am currently in my second year of studying Economics at the university. When it’s not term time I go back to my family in Paris, France, after having moved there from the UK when I was 10. During my free time I enjoy playing rugby, football and socialising with friends.

Picture of Paris Landmark
Arc De Triomphe, Paris

What interested you in applying for your job at Campus Jobs?

What first appealed to me about working for Campus Jobs, other than the flexible working hours, was being able to show potential employees that I was capable of studying and working at the same time. Having a job at university is a great way of enhancing your CV, especially if it’s related to the industry that you wish to work in once you graduate.

So we hear that you speak fluent French, has this been an advantage to you during your job?

Having lived in France for so long, I managed to pick up the language, and being bilingual certainly has its perks. It has helped me at Campus Jobs as I have been able to communicate with all the Francophones on campus who struggle to speak English, as well as being able to impress my colleagues!

What was studying in France like?

Studying in France was a very eye opening experience. After being thrown in at the deep end at a French school and with no friends, I had to adapt quickly to my surroundings. The teachers in France all seemed very daunting, in fact I don’t recall seeing a teacher smile until I started my A-Levels (where they were a lot more chilled). However, the real killer was the 8:30am to 5pm school days, which compared to my usual 9:00 to 15:15 in the UK, made every day seem like I was in a Communist work camp. At first it was also very demoralising going to school as I was at the bottom of every class bar English, however, as I progressed in French, and the more I got used to the culture, the more I saw the positives in moving to a new country. When I reached A-Level, the teachers were a lot nicer and despite the 35 hour school weeks, I feel that the relaxed but intense working environment gave most people a decent work ethic for the future.

PIcture showing busy Paris street
Busy Paris Street


What did you find the biggest change was when moving back to the UK for your studies?

Upon my long awaited return to God’s country (aka the UK), and with so many noticeable differences between the 2 cultures, the one that stood out to me the most was the drinking. Especially at University, the emphasis on drinking is unmissable. Whether it’s within a sports society, or simply having a pint while playing pool with mates, drinking is everywhere.

Thinking about the European or International students we have, do you have any advice or tips for them when they are searching for or thinking about having a job in the UK?

My fist tip about applying for a job in the UK as a foreigner is to apply for a National Insurance number as soon as possible. You need one for tax purposes in order to work in the UK, so sorting one of those out ASAP would be a great first step!

Second, look and apply for a job that you would enjoy! Getting a well-paid job is great, but making sure you enjoy your work is essential.

My final and perhaps most important tip, is to smile. In Britain, everyone likes a smiley person (maybe to make up for the weather, who knows??) and if your potential employer thinks that you’re a happy and positive person, then you’re more than likely to be hired!

Image of Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower