So, 5 weeks into my French adventure, I have finally started up my blog. I’m spending a year in the beautiful city of Grenoble, in the southeast of France. I’m studying at Université Grenoble Alpes, which has the most amazing mountainous backdrop. Being able to see mountains literally everywhere you walk in this city isn’t a particularly tough way of living; not forgetting to mention how amazing it’ll be when the ski season starts. French admin is definitely something that is tough though, not receiving wifi for 10 days when I arrived was interesting, as was queuing up in 30 degree heat for 2 hours to be enrolled in the university, only to receive a piece of flimsy plastic that’s a poor excuse for a student card. Oh and spending 3 entire weeks making my own timetable – running around only to find the class has changed rooms, or the teacher can’t be bothered to turn up, or the module isn’t running anymore.. but now I finally do have a timetable (hooray!!). And I can honestly say that after all of this, I will never take Southampton’s administrative processes for granted, EVER again.
I have had my purse stolen (luckily with very little in it) and I’ve received a fine for forgetting my tram pass.. people understandably find it quite easy to laugh at me here. I have also gone to predrinks and forgotten my tram pass on 5 separate occasions so had to run back and get it and have almost had an asthma attack in the process. I have accidentally dropped a courgette into a man’s shopping basket in the supermarket, I have dropped 3 different onions 3 times in a row in the supermarket, and also, on the girly trip to Lyon we did last weekend, I managed to wheel my suitcase over about 8 peoples’ toes, and I dropped the suitcase handle about 6 times; being in France doesn’t make me any less clumsy. Oh and I nearly got shut in the door of the Metro.
However, despite the quite laughable struggles encountered in the first few weeks, I have had a massively rewarding time here so far – I opened a phone contract with Orange and I’ve also set up a French bank account (although I didn’t understand what the man was saying half of the time, I think I’ve done it right). So, massive sense of achievement there, but there are still ALWAYS going to be French people who speak back to you in English.. is it that my French isn’t good enough, or is it that the French want to practice their English rather than for me to practice my French? Who knows, but it’s the most annoying thing here so far. I actually asked a man in a restaurant last week if he could speak back to me and my friends in French..
I have been lucky enough to make a big group of friends, and they have made settling in so much easier. We have done some pretty awesome things already, and my ‘memory box’ is already piling up with funny moments (Holly getting into a club using her EHIC because she forgot her ID as an example..). So if the first 5 weeks are anything to go by, this year is going to be an absolute cracker. I need to start practising more French, and you’d think that being in such an international halls of residence would mean that that shouldn’t be too hard, but in my flat of 40-something people I haven’t really made many friends yet.. no one is ever in the kitchen at the same time as me. Being in halls is great though, despite my first initial ‘omg’ when I saw the state of my room, I have since thoroughly cleaned and decorated it and now it feels like home. All girly n pink.
On a final note for my first entry, I already feel like I’ve grown up within the 5 weeks I’ve been here: I now enjoy drinking beer AND coffee, yet I’ve never liked them before. So absolute result there, because now I can say ‘let’s go for a coffee’ or ‘let’s go for a beer’ and actually drink both of these beverages, score. So I’ve drunk far too much beer already of course, I buy a baguette every time I go to the supermarket, I’ve eaten my bodyweight in cheese and pâté, and I’m hooked on Grenoble’s speciality – tacos. So I think I’m doing this year abroad right?