International profile: Chris Cunningham

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Name: Chris Cunningham
Age: 24
Nationality: French
Hometown: Thonon-les-Bains

Why did you decide to come to Liverpool?
Well, to be honest, I had the choice of a few Universities and I chose LJMU because it seemed to me like the International Journalism course it offered would be the most suited to me. I am 24 already and although doing a masters degree would be fascinating, I want to be fully trained and capable of doing my future job as fast as possible.

JMU seemed to offer the most practical training to help me become what I want to be: a foreign correspondent. But, to be fair, from my very limited experience of Liverpool, I came for one day when passing my driving test back in 2008, and I liked the feel of the city. It somehow felt more ‘alternative’ than most other English cities.

What do you miss most about your home country?
I’m used to being away from my hometown, either travelling or working, so I don’t easily get homesick. But if I had to make a list I would say: baguette, cheese, the mountains, and of course my family, friends and cat. Contrarily to most people, I also miss my old job, but that’s probably because not many things can beat snowboarding for a living.

What was the strangest thing you came across during your time in the UK?
Well I’m pretty used to coming over either to see family or for work so the shock is slightly dampened, but there are still many things that do make me raise an eyebrow, or even scream in despair. To name but a few: the English love of rules, regulations and health and safety; the extent of the influence of trashy tabloid press; the whole dress-up culture that just somehow gets the line between sexy and slutty so wrong. Especially when it’s freezing outside.

What was the most exciting moment for you since you came to Liverpool?
I have only been here for a few months but plenty has happened. I would say starting back at University after five years without school was exciting in itself. Also starting boxing and getting picked for an exhibition fight, but above all just discovering this great city and the people who live here.

What is your favourite place in Liverpool?
This is the hardest question by far, although not long here I can tell you there are so many places I already love. Bold Street and its techno blasting, yoga teaching, film screenings and the bombed-out church. The many pubs and coffee shops showing live music, the ‘FACT’ theatre so I can finally see all those independent films on a big screen and in a comfy chair.

Also, Sefton Park for a quiet run away from the sounds of the city, the strangely beautiful Anglican church grounds (full of slightly disturbing Victorian tomb stones), Tate Liverpool and the breathtaking docks. Even my boxing gym has a special feel to it. I think you get what I’m saying , there are just to many places I love and my list grows by the week. One of my favorite things since arriving has been to jump on my old, rusty, run down bike, and go wherever my wheels take me, it’s a great way to discover this amazing city.

What advice can you give other international students who come to Liverpool?
Take in everything; don’t hesitate for a second if it’s there, do it. Activities, places, people, this city is amazing and being a student will give you the time and opportunity to explore and enjoy every bit of it. Grab it, be greedy and enjoy every moment.