Bonjour à tous!
So, here it is: My First Blog Post! I’ve never written a real blog before, so bear with me. I set up this blog back when I should have been revising for exams and quickly realised that I wouldn’t have anything to post for at least a few months. Now though, with just two weeks to go until The Big Move, seems like an appropriate time to start what I hope will be a weekly blog of my year abroad adventures. Before I start, I just want to say a massive thank you to my friend Charis who designed and drew the header for this blog (I just coloured it in as I am sadly lacking in artistic talent). Thank you Charis, I love it!
Let me begin by saying that I’m really looking forward to my year abroad, while at the same time feeling very apprehensive. I’m feeling that very precise mixture of excitement and nervousness that makes me feel like I might projectile vomit every time I remember that I am actually moving to a foreign country in 13 days. Ok, so the flight to Montpellier is only 2 hours, and I suppose the whole trip door-to-door probably won’t take more than about 8 hours; some of my friends have travelled much further abroad to places like Australia and America – their journeys have taken days rather than hours – but I can’t help but feel like France is somehow more foreign (a few thousand miles notwithstanding). Despite its relative proximity, I still find France to be indisputably alien; a country where they use euros, drive on the right and have different plug sockets. Where they eat snails, frogs’ legs and horsemeat (which, as my brother Bill pointed out, maybe isn’t so foreign after all the scandal with the supermarkets this year) and where, most dauntingly of all, they speak French. At the very least, my friends travelling to America will be able to make themselves understood when they finally arrive. I have a feeling that having scraped my way through half a French degree will have in no way prepared me for 4 months in France, but we’ll see!
Top year abroad preparation
The only thing that’s putting a dampener on my excitement at the moment (other than the worry that I won’t be able to understand anyone and consequently not make any friends and fail my courses and have a lonely and miserable four months, that is. Only joking. Sort of), is the huge amount of paperwork that I’ve had to do and am still in the process of doing. It really feels like I’ve spent all summer filling in, signing, emailing, and re-filling in forms thousands of times, not to mention begging people I’ve never met for signatures in dodgy French and even dodgier Italian. Top tip to anyone doing a year abroad: get your paperwork done early. This will probably be made impossible by little nuisances, such as the fact that Montpellier have not yet decided which modules they will be offering next year (that is, in less than three weeks’ time when classes start) and that the Erasmus office have not yet decided how much our grant will be, meaning that at the moment I am literally penniless. These things have frustrated me more than a little bit (as my mum and Matt will testify) because I’m hyper-organised and like to get things sorted as soon as possible, but I guess it’s something I’ll get used to this year. Neither the French nor the Italians are exactly famed for their organisational skills. Funnily enough, I have a friend who is doing his year abroad in Germany and all of his paperwork was completed months ago. I’m not one for typecasts, but it’s comforting to see that the Europeans are living up to their cultural stereotypes so far.
Overall though, even though the paperwork has been a pain in the cul and I am of course feeling nervous about moving to a city that I’ve never been to and where I don’t know anyone, I really can’t wait to get stuck into my new life as a foreign student. I’m determined to make the most of my time in France, because, in the words of my youngest brother Lawrence: “Four months isn’t a very long time, but long enough to blow your mind.” In light of that comment, I had a quick flick through my Languedoc guidebook (Languedoc is the name of the region) and I have compiled a rough version of my Year Abroad Bucket List (Montpellier Edition) to ensure I have a sufficiently mind-blowing time, which is so far as follows:
- Eat frogs’ legs (I hope I don’t regret that)
- Drink some regional wine
- Eat some grisettes de Montpellier which are sweets (I think)
- Visit the Promenade du Payrou
- Visit a crêperie
- Have a coffee and croissant breakfast in the Place de la Comédie
- Find some of les folies de Montpellier
- Visit Carcassonne
- Visit the Pont du Gard
- Go to the beach
- Have a friend from home to visit
- Make a French friend (when I told mum this was on my list, she said “Yeah but it doesn’t count if you make them out of paper.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, mum)
- Cook a meal from scratch with ingredients from a French market
- Visit the aquarium
- Visit the zoo
- Watch L’homme qui aimait les femmes (it’s set in Montpellier)
- Read something by Paul Valéry (the guy who my university is named after. He was born in Montpellier)
- Dance sur le pont d’Avignon
- Take a French course or keep up with grammar in some other way like I should have been doing these past two years
- See some live music
- Go to see a French film at the cinema
- Go to a boulangerie
- Write my year abroad project
Let the mind blowing commence (after I’ve packed).
Bisous, Annie xo