Another week has zoomed by in Grenoble, and I can’t believe that my first semester here has nearly come to an end. Only 1 week until I go home for Christmas – crazy! This week has been an exciting one, albeit filled with (attempts at) assignments and revision for big deadlines and exams that are fast-approaching.
I have visited the Christmas market here in Grenoble twice this week – it’s so cute and lovely. There’s a stage for local bands to play live music, there’s so many nice food stalls, and it’s just so nice to walk around a market and not be squished to death by the sheer number of people barging into you (for example in Strasbourg it was absolutely heaving you couldn’t really move). Of course, I couldn’t go to the Christmas market here without having a glass of vin chaud, which then had to be followed by a gloopy hot chocolate later to warm me up in the freezing cold. Yesterday night at the market I then had the most amazing dinner too: a fresh baguette with French sausages inside that had been fried up and simmered in French onion soup, and they were served with loads of juicy onions; literally heaven in my mouth and worth all 6€ paid.
Walking around the Christmas market in Grenoble has made me even more grateful for the city I live in – Grenoble is beautiful, and although it’s a small city, it’s exactly my type of place. I am honestly so happy to be living here and would recommend this city as a year abroad destination for any of you linguists out there. I’m a country bumpkin used to living in a village where all there is is fields full of sheep and a small chapel, so this small city suits me just fine (population of about 160,000).
Despite my love of this city, I have had a couple of bad experiences this past week, but I guess in any city things like this are bound to happen. Last week whilst walking home from a bar Evie and I noticed that there were a few guys who were following us, so we turned around and walked back in the direction we came, and one of the guys sneakily turned around too and started following us back in the other direction. Because it was just us two girls on our own, we panicked, and so approached a French guy cycling past and asked him if he would mind walking us home, only if he was going in the same direction; luckily he was and bless him, he was so generous to walk home with us in the freezing cold and check we were ok. The trams stop at 2am-ish, so sometimes we have to walk home, but as the French guy said to us.. never walk home just two girls on your own. Lesson learned.
Following that, a couple of days later I was walking home from a night out with Smain and Rich, and a drunken guy kept trying to swipe me, he had the weirdest possessed look in his eyes and despite Rich and Smain being beside me, he kept trying to get hold of me. The boys told him to leave me alone etc but he just wasn’t having any of it, so on the 3rd/4th time he tried, it got serious and ended in a fight – the man ran up to us with his fists poised. I’ve never ever experienced anything like this before so I felt so panicked and shaken and just didn’t know what to do. If I’m honest I still feel shaken up about it, imagine if Smain and Rich hadn’t been there with me? This incident, and the one with Evie, were both on the same stretch of road in Grenoble, and yeah it’s really hit home that this city isn’t as safe as I thought it might be, I guess I was a bit naïve to it before, because nothing like this has ever happened to me before in Southampton, which is a much bigger city.
Basically: walk home in big groups, never walk home just a group of girls on your own, try and make the last tram but if failing that, find a safe route to walk home. Taxis are too expensive and the trams stop quite early on into the night, particularly if you’re going to a club. But yeah, please be safe everyone. My friend also got mugged here a few weeks ago, so it just goes to show, there really are some nasty people out there.
On a more positive note, my card-holder purse that got stolen over 2 months ago has miraculously been found. I got a call from the secretary of the Modern Languages department at my uni here and she said a road assistance worker had found it (just down the road from the bar where it was stolen). It still has my student card and driving license in, but obviously the money that was in it has disappeared. I’m so lucky that I didn’t have more in my purse – I’ve since got a new student card and bought a new driving license, but in the grand scheme of things I got off lightly. I’m just so grateful that on nights out I only take those two cards and a bit of money because losing my passport and bank cards would have been a lot worse.
I’m going skiing for the day in Les 2 Alpes tomorrow and I am so unbelievably excited, then after my deadlines and exams next week it’s time to make the most of my last week here in Grenoble before Christmas. I’m excited to go home and see all my family and friends, but at the same time, I’m wondering where on earth the past 3 months have gone? Time has passed so quickly, and now my friends who are only here for first semester will be leaving; I can’t believe it’s all happening so soon. But what I can say is that I am so grateful I’m staying in Grenoble for a full year, no way would I be ready to move somewhere else yet.