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Published: January 10th 2010
Since I lost my camera...
This is what Besancon looks like (minus the blue sky). We are somewhat on a hill, elevated above the Doubs River. Driving around with Christine, I immediatly thought of this painting by Bruegel.
With a sigh I packed my things this morning at Oops!. My roommates were still sleeping, and it was difficult to gather all of my things in the dark and try not to make too much noise in a room that is only 8X11. I said goodbye to Tom and lugged my things to the metro, where I made three transfers to get to Gare de Lyon, the place where my TGV train would depart. On the train, I watched as we left Paris and entered a rolling landscape covered in snow. As we neared Besancon (which is only about 2.5 hours away), the terraine became more extreme. I'm not sure when a hill stops being a hill and becomes a mountain, but there were lots of hilly-mountainy things that rose up into the white sky. I was very tired, so I slept a little, and this didn't bother me because the landscape was the same the whole way.
When I reached the station, I saw Christine holding a cute handmade sign that said "ASHLEY". I waved and we did the "bisous", the French kisses on the cheeks. She is a short woman with a bob at the jawline. Her voice is a little rough, like many of the people here who have a particular kind of French accent that is similar to French Canadian. She is an incredibly sweet woman, who has taken excellent care of me today. I am very lucky!
She wanted to show me where my dorm is and so we drove there and then to her house. There is snow everywhere. About 4-6 inches deep. The ground is white. The sky is white. The roof tops are white. I feel like I'm in a snow globe. Pick your favorite slush from Sonic, and then imagine walking around in it all day. It becomes a little tricky, and cold and wet on the toes. I have to say that my conclusion about snow thus far is that I'm actually not a fan (though I thought I would be!). And it was so cold today. Everything way grey deserted and closed, because no one works Sundays in France. It seems like I'm in the middle of no where. Looking around, I feel more like I must be in Siberia. The charm of Paris calls to me: I wanted the lights, the cheer, the warm cafes. So I sat in Christine's car thinking: WHERE THE HELL AM I? Am I at the edge of the world? Did I make a mistake coming here?
But not to despair too much! I think it's always difficult to be in a new place at first, especially if the weather doesn't agree with you. It's funny, it's like the culture shock of being in France hasn't happened until now! Anyways, Christine brought me back to her apartment and we had a nice lunch of pasta, bread, and cheese. Then I went into my room to relax and read for a while, but I feel asleep. Around 5:00 I woke up and we went to visit some friends of Anne-Flore (Christine's daughter who is studying at Agnes Scott right now, that's how I met Christine). Delphine and her younger sister Rejane are both about my age and also go to the university. They are a cheery, lively bunch, and it was really nice to be with people my own age. They all talked very fast, and sometimes it was too exhausting to pay attention, so I drifted in and out of understanding. Even though I can understand almost everything that someone says, it takes a lot of focus, and I've found that maintaining the concentration to do this is VERY tiring. Rejane and I are meeting tomorrow, and she is going to help me arrange my cell phone here. They were both very sweet, and I hope to see more of them!
After, Christine drove us through town a like and around the university. Besancon is really a very small place, and I think in the summer it must be quite pleasant, but even Christine said that it's really ugly this time of year. We came back here, and I called my mom and dad on her phone (because she has free calls the the US). It was wonderful to talk to my mom and my aunt who was with here! Then, Christine showed me how to make a quiche Lorraine, which turns out to be quite simple. We had dinner just now, and now I'm eager to go to bed. I wish I'd bought a book in English instead of French, because it would be nice to do something in English. I can feel already the difficulty of switching between the two. Oh well!
Now I'm off to sleep. Tomorrow I move into my dorm, and hopefully I will meet some other international students and we'll hit it off!
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