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Published: September 13th 2011
I would have written in this sooner, but we haven’t actually had a bit of internet the entire time we’ve been here. Some friends and I even tried to steal internet from McDonalds yesterday and were thwarted by the Gods of the Wifi world. It’s really interesting not having internet, and I kind of feel like this is the one really crucial time when we’d actually need it. The first week, that is, when we’re still meeting people and trying to make plans, do things, and just stay out of your own room at all costs in fear of actually missing home way too much. So far, so good. Until now that is, but so far, I feel fine! Other than the first day here, I wouldn’t actually call anything that we’ve done bad. I’ve had a slew of good days in France.
It’s actually sort of nice being an exchange student in a lot of ways, because it’s almost like you have your friends mapped out for you when you come. The good thing about everyone is that absolutely none of us know anyone here. Well, a few know each other from passing each other in university, but none of us REALLY know each other. And none of us REALLY know France, either. So it’s been really fun getting to know and hang out with people from all different cultures and views. Even the Americans here are diverse and interesting. Above all else, though? I haven’t met anyone that I don’t like yet. Which, for me, is a really big thing. Because I tend to not like many people right off the bat. I’ve been having fun here, though!
The first day, we went to our rooms and I essentially passed out after a trip to the supermarket with a fellow American, Meghan. I woke up in the middle of the night (this often happens when one passes out at 5pm) and had a freak out because of all the bugs in my room from leaving the windows open (they don’t have screens here) and then I had another moment when my converter blew a fuse in my room and I could no longer charge my laptop to watch the TV shows I have downloaded onto it. In that moment? Culture shock set in pretty quick, but I wrote in my journal, calmed myself down, and slept until morning. I keep on telling myself to give it a week, like Anna told me. So far, I don’t think I need that long.
I’m already jealous of the people who get to spend a full year here. Angers is gorgeous. It’s everything that you would hope a little European city would be. There’s a castle right in the center, which is just baffling to me, and there are all of these cute little alleyways and little European houses. Everything’s very old and gorgeous here, it’s like you can tell just by looking at it all that it’s been here way before you, and I don’t get that feeling much in the States – mostly because nothing really dates back that far in the States. I love walking around and just looking at everything, though. It’s just so lovely. I can’t believe there was ever even a little part of me that didn’t want to come here.
Back to what we’ve been up to, though! The second day, we went and had a tour of Angers and set up bank accounts. I went out that night for a little bit with some people for drinks and then came back fairly early to sleep so that I could wake up early because there was a trip the next morning in Anjous. We saw the Chateau Brisac, which is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. It was breathtaking. Whitney, Tim and I walked around it, getting a little more jealous at every new angle of it we found. The new saying after that is, “oh, you know! Just another day in France…” walking around a castle, watching firefighter parades, and eating baguettes in parks. After we left the castle, we were fed. It’s always lovely to get some free food! Then we went to this really interesting farming community that was built entirely underground. My camera was MIA through all this (I left my memory card at home), so I’ll have to steal Whitney’s pictures in order to put them up later. Then later was when we failed to get internet at McDonalds and I ended up walking around, eating a crepe with a friend, and going back to the same bar we were at the night before for drinks before we came back.
Today we had a picnic at the park with all of the foreigners. It looked like it was going to rain when were about to go, but it shaped up to be a really gorgeous day to sit by a lake, eat fresh breads and pastries, and just hang out. We then went and played on a jungle gym (or a ‘climbing frame’ as I’m told they’re called in England), which was really fun! It was very childish, but I think that’s what made it so great. After that, Whitney and I had some girl time alone and walked around Angers. We went around the park and came up through the town, walked around the castle in Angers a little, and then went through the town and tried to find our way back from centre-ville. It took a while, but we succeeded in finding our way back only because of Whitney’s excellent sense of direction! We then proceeded to make dinner and now I think we’re winding down for the night.
The dorms are really quiet here and the rooms are really small. I’m not actually used to being alone this much, so it’s definitely something that I’m going to have to learn. I’m used to having roommates and walking out of my respective room into a common area and seeing everyone. It’s also been difficult not having internet AND not being able to use a cell phone, because it makes it even more difficult to contact people to find out who is doing what, or who wants to do what. So far I’ve been blessed enough to be almost constantly surrounded by people, but sometimes it’s difficult. And it’s still difficult for a lot of us to sit in our small little rooms alone, but I think we’ll all end up getting that comfortable here. I’m still giving it a week, and it seems to get better every day already.
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