Published: January 19th 2007January 19th 2007
My celing is on a slant cuz I'm in the roof. It's cool, I feel like I'm living in a story book.
I've been in Strasbourg for a week now, and I can't believe it's only been a week - I've done so much it feels like I've been here at least a month.
I totally freaked out before I left (as many of you saw
) but once I got on the plane it was all good. And a big thanks to Carol, Mary, Natasha and Fi for coming down to hang with me at Sydney airport during my 5 hour stopover. It was awesome to see you girls again and it really calmed my nerves - not to mention getting a good dose of Miss Shop goss!
The plane ride was ok, but wow I forgot how long the flight is. It's funny cuz when you land you don't think that it took that long, but when you're flying it feels like forever. I couldn't sleep when I wanted to and kept getting woken up by the stewardesses and their friggin trolleys, so when we stopped for 30mins in Bangkok I raided my bag for my super-strength hayfever tablets that could sedate a horse and slept like a baby till Dubai! (Although, after being on a
This is the view from my front window. If you turn left on the street in front of the little square there, you end up in one of the main shopping malls.
plane with a screaming baby I don't think that's the best expression to use. And Amanda, wow did I think of you when I was on that flight. I recommend drugging the children on your flight over, it'll make it easier on everyone.)
The biggest shock we got when we landed in Paris was the weather - it was 12°C. We were all carrying hand luggage packed full of thermals only to get out and find a mild, almost warm day. It was kinda disappointing because we really wanted there to be snow and had been psyching ourselves up for the cold for the whole flight. It turns out this is France's warmest winter on record, yay global warming!
Trekking through Paris with oversized luggage to find the train to Strasbourg was certainly a challenging experience because most of the metro exits and entrances are too small to fit luggage through, and after squeezing it through or throwing it over the top we were met with really long sets of stairs. No escalators, no lifts. Thankfully for us Parisians are nicer than people would have you believe and several people helped us with our luggage up and down
The sun rises on side of the house, so if I wake up at 8am I can see orange sky over these gorgeous buildings. Such a nice change to have a sunrise that's not at stupid o'clock!
stairs - and before you say anything, no they weren't all men.
(By the way, the 'we' I'm talking about is me and the three other UTS students I came with; Kristian, Lizette and Laura. You'll be hearing a lot more about them in future blogs. There are 2 other girls who also came from UTS, but they're at a different part of the uni to us so we don't cross paths too much.)
The train was just under 5 hours to Strasbourg from Paris and by the time we got here I was so glad that not only had I already found a flatmate, but that I'd found someone nice enough to find me at the station and take me to my new home. Juliette found me pretty easily and we just walked back to her place which was only 10 minutes away. So, a mere 45 hours after I left mum's place in Adelaide, I tucked myself into bed in my new home in Strasbourg.
The appartment is gorgeous, it was built in the middle ages so it's pretty old. It has a stairway from hell though, it's about 5 flights up to the apartment,
The photos really don't do it justice.
and then another flight from the kitchen to my room. And I don't just mean your average stairs, I mean really old, really steep stairs. It's like I'm living on base camp Mount Everest! And because the people in the middle ages were midgets some parts of the ceiling are quite small, particularly at the top of the stairs from my bedroom down to the kitchen and bathroom, so for the first few toilet trips through the night I wacked my head pretty hard, adding minor concussion to my jetlag. But like Juliette said, it only happens a few times before you learn to duck!
The first few days here we just introduced ourselves to our uni contact who's really lovely and goes out of her way to help us. On the weekend we just wandered around getting our bearings, which surprisingly enough to those who know I can get lost in my own home, it's been pretty easy finding my way around. I think it has to do with the fact that a river runs in a circle around the centre of the town, and also I live near a very famous cathedral that sticks out high over
I'm telling you, you could eat these buildings!!
all the other buildings so if I get lost I just look for that and walk towards it.
But wow, this city is something else. It's stunning! It's so beautiful it's hard to believe it's a real place and not a movie set. And there's one area called Petite France which is so beautiful I nearly cried when I saw it. You walk down the streets just waiting for Hansel and Gretel to walk past because some of the buildings really look like they could be made of gingerbread. It's only been one week and we're all walking around wondering how we'll ever be able to leave.
On Monday I had my first class in French which I was shitting myself about. I was pretty much as scared as I was before I came here, I just didn't want to go in. It was in a big lecture theatre but the seats were only filled from the first few rows from the back. I was so scared that I didn't get there early, and because so many seats were taken I was at the front of the rows. I went over to the side of the theatre near the wall to try and hide myself, but still I felt like I was sitting there with a spotlight on me and it felt like everyone was staring at me. It was a very interactive lecture and all I could think was "Don't ask me any questions!" I understood about 60% of the class which isn't a bad start I guess, but the experience rocked me a little and I found some administrative stuff to do the next day which accidentally-on-purpose prevented me from going to my next class in French.
I know it was weak but I just wasn't ready. For the following 3 days I had actual French classes for foreigners and now I feel a bit more confident for next week. It's amazing how much the language has crept in already, I learn so many words everyday I can't even write them all down. But the constant thinking literally hurts my brain. I wake up and speak French to Juliette, who also speaks English a little which is good when I need something translated, and then to go out in the street and just buy something can be an effort, never mind buying my laptop and digital camera which is beyond my comprehension even in English.
But now that I have my computer and I'm hooked up to the internet I feel so much more at home. My Sex and the City DVD's wouldn't play in the French laptop cuz of zoning differences and I was almost in panic mode until I could download another media player. And I know I'm a trashbag addict, but I swear when I finally sat back and played an episode, hearing the intro music sent a rush of relief ran through my body that I can't explain. As much as I love this city, there's only a certain amount of thinking one person can do in a day. And when you have to think twice everytime you go to speak it can be really draining, so being able to come home and unwind with a small piece of familiarity, it really is like medication.
Well I think I'm going to leave my first entry there, even though there's so much I still haven't written about. Our little UTS foursome have been doing lots of exploring, many cafes, restaurants, and last night we went to our first uni party at a night club which was only 2 doors down from where I live! But I'm sure there'll be many more nights out to write about in the not to distant future and my hands are starting to get tired. Although, I'm doing so much better on my French keyboard now. I don't swear nearly as much as I used to - I'm sure the neighbours thought I had Tourette's for a while there!
Until next time,
Au revoir xx