Tuesday, 21 September 2010

French admin & new digs!

Well, this past week I've really encountered something completely different compared to the administrative system of the good ol' United Kingdom. I've registered as a student with the University (which involved about 2 and a half hours of waiting around for what was essentially a 15 minute job per student) and tried to sort my timetable out, which involves a lot of research for not a lot of gain.
I've also had 2 house viewings, which were absolutely lovely, and have said yes to both. You may be wondering how I'm going to live in 2 places at once... well, the appartment that I'm moving into next week is until Christmas, and the other house is from January until May. I haven't quite learned the power of being in 2 places at once yet, unfortunately! They are both really nice rooms. This is the first one, in which I'll be living in about a week.

I have a double bed, and a wardrobe which you can't see on this picture because it's built into the wall on the right. There's also a telly and a little sofa thing.

The kitchen, with a little table, and a balcony for eating outside when it's nice, and an oven, which is making a lot of the Erasmus students jealous as their kitchens are extremely poorly equipped, with only 4 cooking plates and a microwave, and no oven or freezer, for the whole floor, which is around 30 people I think. They also have no cooking equipment at all!

The living room, which will become my flatmate's bedroom once I move in.

So that's until Christmas, I'm super-excited because the girl  is lovely, she's called Amélie and I think we're going to become really close. And my French will improve no end living with a francophone!

And this next house has a bit of a story to how I found it. You might remember me saying I needed to find a laundrette, well, I did. I went with one of the other British guys, Steven, as it's close to where he lives and there's a bus stop only 2 minutes away. The owner was there to help us work the machines and as I arrived a bit earlier than Steven, I got talking to him, and it turns out he lets out rooms to students, and he has one available from January, which is perfect for me! So I took his contact card and emailed him, and he sent me some pictures of the house, and then I had a viewing and decided I'd say yes to him today. It's such a relief to have it all sorted and just focus on studying and living in France!

Here are some pictures of the room and the house. The family lives on the bottom floor, and there's a separate entrance for the students, with 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. The bedrooms are all lovely and spacious. They all have double beds.

This is the one I'm thinking of taking, it'll a choice between this one and the largest one which gets the sun in the morning.

The kitchen, with an oven again :)

So I'm really excited to move in next week, and in the second house, the family are really lovely and have 4 gorgeous children.

I'm really happy here, and proud of myself that I'm actually here, in France, on my own, and I'm doing it! I'm interacting with people, and giving them directions (albeit the wrong directions, as I realised afterwards, d'oh!), and giving them the time, and helping old ladies in supermarkets, and getting accustomed to the 'bises'.

I even walked home with a baguette under my arm one day, and had it for lunch while it was still warm, with some lovely, creamy camembert. I like it here.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Festivals and sorting offices.

Just a quickie today as I have lots to do!

I seem to be getting lost daily, yesterday I had to go to a sorting office which was very well hidden considering how big it was, and I walked for hours in flipflops and have blisters between my toes now, not nice. And the package? MORE flipflops! *oh the irony*
I suppose it helps me find my way around though, if I get lost in a slightly different place each time!

Then I went out with the Erasmus folk for drinks and to see the festival that's happening this weekend, except we only stayed at the festival for a bit and then wandered away from it... very confusing. I forgot my camera though so I'll remember it tonight and take lots of pictures!
The toilet in my flat is broken, not flushing at all so I have to go and tell the family today, that's on my To Do list, along with going to visit the other family in Bouchemaine, finding a laundrette and going to an afternoon party (with alcohol, naturally).

I'm quite excited about the festival this weekend so I'll take my camera everywhere with me and try and take lots of pics so  you guys can see what I'm getting up to over here!

A bientot!
CK xx

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Arrival in Angers and Erasmus stuff.

Phew, it feels like ages since I last blogged!

Well, I arrived in Angers fine, I got a taxi from the station and arrived outside my house, was greeted by  the family and shown to my room (pics to follow shortly, my internet is being sloooow atm). Then the son and his girlfriend took me into town and showed me the phone shop and a supermarket.
Then when I got home and realised I'd have to get the bus on my own in the morning and all the tiredness just hit me and I just wailed on them. I mean properly wailed, like a little child. They were wonderful and gave me cuddles and food and tissues. Then the dad walked me to the bus stop in the morning and made sure I knew which stop to get off at. We spoke a bit of French on the way.

When I got there I met some other girls, one from America, two from Brazil and one from Japan. They were all really nice. We got shown round the library, the halls of residence and the university restaurant and then got shown round the town. After that we were free to wander round. Then the next day we had a meeting and a test to asses our level of French, then got taken to the bank to open a bank account, except there were too many people and we had to come back today instead.
It feel like I've done so many things since my last blog but they're mostly boring so I'll try and keep this short and sweet!

We had a night tour of Angers which was lovely but by about halfway through everyone was getting bored and falling asleep because we'd been walking everywhere for 2 or 3 days with no real break inbetween.

Then at the weekend I went shopping for a bit and then went for drinks in the evening. I also saw a notice in the English speaking library for a family looking for an English-speaking student to live with them for free, with free meals and internet, in return for a couple of nights a week babysitting, so I phoned them yesterday (completely in French, I'm so proud!) and asked for more information, and I'm going to visit their house on Saturday afternoon.

Today I opened a French bank account, bought some 2 euro flip-flops (after searching pretty much every day since I got here!) and some candles, and remembered the word for 'matches' after having to use sign language and some rather muddled French in the corner shop on the way back home. They were lovely though and wanted to know the English word. Matches are 'allumettes' in French, if anyone was wondering...
I also bought a French magazine, Elle, in the hope of reading and understanding a bit of written French rather than just speaking and listening all the time, which I am stronger at.

Tomorrow's To Do list includes: inscription at the University, getting a student card, getting a bus pass, finding my clothes size here, choosing which modules I'll take and asking various boring questions to the head of International Students.

I'll upload pics when my internet isn't being so frustratingly slow. Bye for now!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Journey to Paris and thoughts so far.

Hullo again.

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Paris. The journey went alright, as journeys go I guess, but do wish I wasn't a girl sometimes: I've been lugging around a huge suitcase, a medium suitcase and a massive rucksack all day yesterday and when I woke up this morning my arms and shoulders were all achey and stiff. Anyway, I set off from Preston yesterday morning to go to London, there were a few tears at the station (and the train ended up being half an hour late but I'd left 2 hours between arriving and the next train from London so it turned out okay, thankfully!) but I got on fine. I had to chuck a kid out of my seat though which I felt bad for but I wasn't going to stand for 2 hours! I put the radio on on my phone, and the only station it would tune to was playing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough',  ain't no river wide enough, ain't no valley low enough, to keep me from getting to you, which seemed strangely poignant considering the circumstances! I may have got slightly teary again when I heard it. Then when I arrived in London I had to get a taxi to St Pancras, which the taxi driver told me was 'only outside you know' and it cost me £6. Oh well.

The eurostar was lovely, I got offered an upgrade to 'Leisure Select' when I was booking it for £9 so I jumped on the offer, and got waited on hand and foot, a lovely meal (veggie lasagne thing) and free wine and those hot towel things which I always like. The seats were really roomy and I could've easily fallen asleep after lunch except there was only half an hour to go and I'm not brilliant at daytime napping at the best of times.

Arrival in Paris... one word: chaos! I waited in the cue for the taxi rank, even though my hotel was supposedly a 10 minute walk (according to Google), but I bet those 10 minutes aren't burdened with the weight of a small horse, so I thought it best to play it safe and take a taxi, which might've been a mistake, looking back. When I got to the front of the cue it was pretty mental, the couple in front of me had a driver who drove to the front of the cue and picked them up, but when I was there I had to walk quite a way into the oncoming flow of taxis where one had stopped and jumped out and was waving frantically at me. He did help me with my bags, I'll give him that, but, as with most Parisien taxi drivers, he seemed to be in such a rush to get me in and out of the taxi and take my money that conversation was stilted at best. We established where I was going, in rather broken French, and he set off. And then drove past it because we had to be on the other side of the road so he said he'd turn round. When we went past the hotel the meter was at about 5 euros, and when we finally arrived it was at 9 something but he charged me 10 something. Crazy.
The hotel room is alright, a bit noisy outside but not too bad. The cleaning lady just knocked on my door and got annoyed with me so I'd better go soon.

I ate as much food as I could at the breakfast buffet as I wasn't sure when my next meal would be. My train from Paris Montparnasse is at 14.00 and arrives in Angers at 15.35, but I still have to navigate the metro system and find the platform etc before then. Wish me luck!