Published: August 29th 2006
August 29th 2006
This entry may be broing to some, but I have decided to note random cultural differences so that family and close friend can get have a clear idea of what my life here is like.
Well, I have been in France for about 10 days. I arrived in Paris on Sunday August 20th, then got a connecting flight to Montpellier. I spent the first three days in a little town called Sommieres which is about 20 or 30 minutes outside Montpellier. I was there with our residence director who is in charge or organizing everything for the UNC students and the 7 other student who are on our program for the year. . It was a very charming and relaxing place. We spent our days going over logistics and preparings to move into our host families. We talked baout safety, opening bank accounts, the French school system, cultural differences between French houses and the people in general, etc. It was nice to have someone prep us on those issues so that the transition wouldn't be too tough. WE ate great food, had relaxing evenings exploring or listening to the jazz musicians who were staying in the "welcome center" which has a hostel type place for people to gather. Last Wednesday, we came back to Montpellier and went to Carol's house ( our resident director) and waited for our host families to come and pick us up. I was sooooo nervous when Mme. Defay came to pick me up, but is is very nice, welcoming, and easy going, although i was still slightly intimiated to talk alot because i was so acutely aware of my american-ness once we were in the big city. I unpacked, got the tour of the apartment and ate dinner with Mme. Defay and pasquale, who is a Swiss guy staying with her for 6 weeks to have french lessons here. It was nice to have another person who was a little rusty with their French. Dinner is very informal. she cooks healthy meals which I like. One interestin thing is that you put your bread on the table, never on oyour plate. That was one of the first things I learned here at our first meal. Anyway, the aprtment is very cool. it is on the top floor of the building and has a second loft type.mini apartment where her son stays when he is in town. I haven't met him yet, i think he is going to school in Lyon and spends a lot of time with his girlfriend. She also has a 19 year old daughter who is kind of intimidating, because of the indifferent attitude toward the houseguests, although i may eventually be friends with her when my speaking improves. SHe lives in the apartment, although I rarely see her. My room is a good size, and I have large tall windows the open onto a little balcony that I can stand on and that I use to dry my towels, since no one has dryers for clothes. I have a shelf for clothes and one for books, a good size bed and a desk. There is a great terrace where we eat dinner when it is nice out. In general, the apartment is spacious and open. There is one bathroom for everyone and a toilet that is separate. On thursday we all met for lunch at UNC's office and talked about our families, etc. In the afternoon we learned how to use the tram and went up to the university to see where it is. We didin't get a campus tour because it is closed right now. After that we walked back to centre ville which is the old walled part of the city, then to place de la comedie which is the heart of centre ville. We did some shopping for necessities, then when home for dinner with the host families. Friday we had placement tests for our grammar and oral expression classes which started yesterday as part of the pre-stage, a three week language review and immersion. We had several meetings in the afternoon, and that night our group went to a wine tasting at this open area near place de la comedie called l'esplanade. It was really interesting. We met some friend of our grad student assistant and all went to a pub. They were all british, so We didn't get to speak much french. it is hard not to speak English with the group, especially so early on when we are all getting settled. On saturday we got cell phones ( i can give the number to individuals who want it and you can use a phone card to call me) and took a tour of the city. It is so beautiful here. I will put up pictures soon. Sunday we went on an excursion to the midieval town about 2 hours away called carcassone. It is a huge tourist spot, but it was very cool. We got to see a jousting reinactment. A little cheesy but still fun. yesterday (monday, 8/28) we started our classes. We have a grammar review, as well as oral expression. Both are helpful so far. We also gave civilization three times a week.Last night I cooked pasta with a friend in the UNC group who is living in an apartment rather than a homestay> It was cool to see her neighborhood. And now, its Tuesday and I'm finally getting aorund to starting this blog. I plan on updating this when possible ( although i do not have internet in my apartment at this point) rather than sending 100 emails every week. If you want to know something specific, e-mail me and I will reply. I hope you enjoyed this. I will update again soon.