I have landed and settled in France. I regret that I haven’t blogged yet since being here, but I am slowly getting things into gear.
My trip was a total of 23 hours from Saint John to Poitiers. At the Saint John Airport, I was more emotional than I expected, and almost missed seeing my grandmother since she could not arrive as early as we did. Everything went fine and airport security was less intrusive than I expected. For the first time since I was 5, I got on the plane and was quite amazed by how small everything looked on the ground when the plane was high enough.
After an hour and a half, I landed in Montreal for a 5 hour wait. I accidentally exited the secured area of the airport, and had to go through security again. Oops. On the flight to Paris, I spoke some French and some English to a Quebec woman from Montreal. At the Paris airport, I waited another 5 hours for the train, and everything was pretty smooth sailing. My luggage was very heavy, beyond the acceptable limits for flying, so I’ll have to lighten it up before coming home. It was very hard to carry it up stairs.
At the Poitiers train station, I met Mr. Gervis, my landlord. He’s a very nice guy as everyone says, and very easy-going. He took me to my apartment, and set me and the other students up with the appropriate forms. He also took me and another housemate for a drive around Poitiers to show us everything. Everything is very old and very crowded. Think of the narrowest street in Uptown Saint John, and then imagine if the whole city was that way. It’s very interesting because it seems unsafe, but it works, and no one gets hurt. They make it work, even with things like city buses running regularly through the narrow one-way streets.
The place I’m living in is quite old, but my room isn’t too bad.
Since I brought no food, Gerke (one of my housemates) and I went to a fast food restaurant similar to McDonald’s called the Quick. That wasn’t bad. We also went to a grocery store called Monoprix, but I didn’t actually buy anything there until the next day.
After arriving on Thursday, Friday was orientation at ESCEM Business School. It was mostly administrative, and quite boring. Lunch was provided, with French cuisine like Quiche and whatever else I am forgetting. It was good.
On Monday, I began actual classes. They are very long, at 3 hours each, compared to an average of 1 hour for UNB classes. However, I have 2 days out of 5 off this week, so I can’t complain too heavily. Most of the class is made up of French students who are learning English, so it is an interesting scenerio to be in.
Yesterday, I took the bus to a mall that is outside the main city core. I bought some groceries at the larger grocery store there, and also got a cell phone. I paid 99â?¬ (about C$150) for a phone, which comes with 25â?¬ free of prepaid credit. Not bad. In general, mobiles are more expensive to buy and use over here.
As far as getting settled, having to plan and make all of my meals is an adjustment. Luckily, the grocery store is just a 20 minute walk away, so I can always get whatever I need during open hours (which do not include Sunday at all, as I discovered already). Speaking French is also an adjustment, but I have enough to get by in most situations. I’m hoping I’ll be working with more French students at school, and that I’ll pick some up that way.
I’ll try to update regularly. Au revoir.