Expectations

After reading my last post I have just realised I have neglected this blog terribly! We have been here over a month now and I cannot believe how fast that has gone. I feel really settled here now and getting used to the weird French ways. Before starting Uni here I thought all of my lectures would be with other French students however the majority of the modules we are doing are specifically designed for Erasmus students. That explains why we haven’t made any French friends except our flat mate and her boyfriend! My lectures are so hard because they are all taught in French except the translation module. I have a module in French literature and at the moment we are analysing a poem and having to use poetic terms like quatrains and about the rhyming scheme- this is hard enough in English let alone in French! To add to this, my beginners Spanish lecturer jumps from speaking Spanish to French during the two hour lesson so I have to concentrate ten times harder to keep up. Having said that I do enjoy Spanish but already we are learning verb endings and conjugation, it’s true to say that a lot of the students who attend have some previous knowledge of the language whereas I do not!

As well as expecting to make lots of French friends I also knew France had a reputation for bad night life, especially in Grenoble which is the south east of France where I thought not much would be happening except skiing of course.. I couldn’t have been more wrong, Grenoble offers some better events than back home and for such reasonable prices as well. Having been to ‘Jour et Nuit’ fest, another techno event on campus and also a club with an underground prison, it’s safe to say that my expectations have been proved wrong.

Last Sunday our Uni organised a trip to Chamonix to go up to Mont Blanc. We stopped off for an hour in Lake Annecy on the way and looked around the market and croissants and coffee for breakfast. We got the telepharique to the top and took photos of the amazing snowy mountain top views. It was quite cold so we had to wrap up warm and at one point it was snowing! Then we headed back down and had lunch in a cute log cabin like restaurant in Chamonix. The resort is so pretty and made us so excited for the ski season to start!

I experienced my first French yoga class on Tuesday evening in the sports centre at my uni. I had a lot to go by since I go to my mums classes when in England but I knew the style of teaching wouldn’t be the same and I was right this time! Firstly the teacher wanted us to put our mats in a circle rather than in lines, the class focused more on the breathing aspect than the actual stretches which is what I prefer, and a lot of the people had never done yoga before so it was quite basic. I can’t complain though because it is so cheap and I’m sure it’ll become more challenging as the weeks go on. Being the only foreigner  I thought it might be a struggle to relax because I had to concentrate on what the teacher said but I could understand his instructions so I could enjoy it.

Finally my to do list is complete, what with filling in forms and sending them off so I can get my Erasmus grant and CAF money from the French government, I have also got a French contract now and my sim card will arrive in 10 days. Phone contracts here are one of the only things that are cheaper than England as I am paying just €2 per month for unlimited texts and two hours of calls.

Not only are the French big fans of techno music they also love the traditional old songs with a known dance routine. We went to a bar with about thirty different barrels behind the bar filled with flavoured wine including sex on the beach flavour! The bar was packed with young French students singing  and dancing along to the French songs, it was such a surreal experience and we felt very foreign so we headed to an irish bar to have some beer and get back to reality!

Luckily I don’t have to wait until Christmas to see someone from home as my mum is coming to visit and we are staying in Lyon for two nights for a short break, cannot wait Trace!

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Friday the 13th

Starting with the boring bits I have done this week, opened a French bank account which is key to everything as we have recently found out. Now we can get a French phone contract, print in the library (yep they require a bank card to pay for use of printers) and most importantly we can receive our benefits CAF grant. We have now signed the contract for our apartment and I paid €325 to our landlord, still leaving me owing €600 for the deposit but it seems I can pay this whenever I like as the owners are so laid back that if I paid them in two years time they’d be satisfied! The visit to Grenoble’s museum is complete after listening to a french tour guide speak about different paintings for an hour and a half.

Monday night we went out to bar Bukana, the same bar we went to Friday.  Arriving tipsy and expecting it to be really busy we were shocked to only find the group we were meeting sat on a table and two other randoms- empty. This didn’t stop us continually ordering more shots of tequila and getting in more rounds of beer. To add to this abundance of liquid, the barman would appear with a tray of free sourz when he felt necessary. Of course our night would end with Kayra (Keira) falling off my bed once we’d returned home!

A bit of exciting news on the talk of skiing… The sports fare took place on Wednesday and immediately we queued up for l’école de glisse and registered for a module in beginners snowboarding which is worth the same amount of credits as my least favourite module: French grammar! Obviously this involved a lot of queuing and form filling out because the French love that sorta thing but it was worth the 1 hour and a half wait to get a membership card which gives us discounts in ski shops and free travel to alp d’huez (where my snowboarding lessons take place) and les deux alps. They have also arranged a trip to the 3 valleys! After that we did more queuing for our social security insurance but in true French style they told us we were in the wrong place so we gave up and went to carrefour for our food shop.

The French aren’t up to date on technology but they definitely have some good people and good food. I was desperate for something sweet after dinner on Tuesday so went out to get a dessert from the patisserie next to our apartment, however it was closed. So I went to the restaurant next door and the kind old man gave me a plate covered in tin foil with a delicious tarte tartin with ice cream and squirty cream inside! We also went to the patisserie in town that sell the most incredible tarts, meringue and macaroons. So obviously we bought one or two tarts.

Last night was definitely on the list of my top 10 nights out and it was in France! We went to what was referred to as a ‘pool party’ but it didn’t have much to do with swimming, it was purely called that because it was next to the building where the pool is on campus. We expected hardly any people to turn up- it was free, BYOB and we hadn’t even heard about it until about two hours before we left. There were thousands of people, not even exaggerating! There was a bar selling reasonably priced drinks and a massive stage with lots of bright lights as big and grand as you might see at a festival. The djs were amazing, they played reggae and house and we drank too much and danced all night.

As you expect I was very fragile this morning after getting in at around 5am. Unfortunately we found out that everyone we had spoken to had already registered for what modules they wish to take. Kayra and I had not so we didn’t exactly get a very happy response from our coordinator when we told her we hadn’t signed up to any modules and our lectures start on Monday! After about four hours at uni we managed to sign up to 6 modules, (including one in beginners Spanish) eat, mope around being needy and feeling sorry for ourselves. We came home and watched 360 starring Jude Law, a thriller about prostitutes and adultery to put it in a nut shell.

One final comment for a bit of sympathy… I have a two hour French grammar lecture on Tuesday morning at EIGHT THIRTY!!!!!

Bonne nuit mes potes!

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