Christmas and my new flatmates

Bonjour à tous !

There are two types of people: those who like Christmas and those who don’t. If you’re one of the people who doesn’t like Christmas, I recommend you skip the first part of this post and also that you take some time out to reflect on what has made you such a sad and bitter person.


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As you all know, Monday was the first of December. I’ve been in Christmas mode for about a week already, but the first day of the festive season marked two things: the legitimacy of the above photos (nobody can tell me it’s too early for a Christmas tree anymore!) and the beginning of my 26-day Bublé Christmas album lockdown.

I’m not the only one who loves Christmas… Montpellier loves it too! The town is glittering.


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The decorations range from beautiful and tasteful to that last one which is one of the ugliest, most garish and most irrelevant Christmas decorations I’ve ever seen…

The last weekend of November marked the beginning of Les Hivernales, the winter version of Les Estivales (which were the highlight of my summer). Unfortunately there was a storm ravaging Montpellier on the opening night; the rain stopped long enough for us to go and have a wander, but the absence of a crowd and the fact that some of the booths were closed meant that the atmosphere was a bit lacking. We managed to drink some mulled wine and eat some sweets though, so I was happy. I can’t wait to go back and visit it during the day when it isn’t raining!

I’ve seen two articles on the Tab recently about how rubbish years abroad are that have obviously been written by people who are very bitter about their bad experiences. I really have had and am having an amazing time on my year abroad, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some completely shit parts – but such is life. I’ve done my best to be honest on this blog and not pretend that everything is rosy 100% of the time, and I’m afraid that means that, in the interests of honesty, you’re now in for another anecdote about a shitty part (which are, luckily, few and far between).

I was feeling a lot better for all of my panicked emails until I found out that my halls were shutting off the hot water and heating for two days during the week. The heating wasn’t such a problem as it doesn’t work in my room anyway, but the hot water was going to be a bit of an issue, so Ruth let me stay at hers for a couple of days. On the night the water was supposed to be turned back on I was super tired and wanted a cup of tea and my own bed. I headed out into the storm and got accosted by a man on the way to the tram who asked me for a cigarette and told me I was a slut when I said I didn’t smoke – it was a bad start. I arrived home soaking wet to discover yet ANOTHER letter from CAF telling me for the FIFTH TIME that I needed to send YET MORE documents before I could receive the money I was entitled to. I got into my freezing cold room (the heating still wasn’t working) and tried to take a hot shower, but the water ran icy cold too. I tried to use the internet but that was also not working. I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and decided I’d just have a cup of tea and go to bed, and that I’d deal with all this in the morning. I went to turn my tap on to fill the saucepan.

I put up with the lack of heating and hot water. I put up with the fact that the Internet is intermittent. I put up with the mould on my wall. I put up with the tap that runs so slowly that it takes ten minutes to fill up my 1.5 litre bottle. I put up with the showerhead that only works on one side. I put up with the broken bed that sags in the middle. I put up with the deafening drilling at 7am when I want to sleep and then all through the day when I want to study (and by study I mean sleep some more). But this was the last straw.

I turned on the tap and discovered that there were several dead ants in the water coming out of the tap. I opened my cupboard with horror and found it was absolutely crawling with them. They were even in my bed.

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My new roommates, apparently

I think it’s fair to say that at this point I well and truly lost my shit. I grabbed my bag and ran back out into the thunder and lightening like a crazy lady, only to find that I’d missed the last tram. While I was sat at the tram stop, soaking wet and trying to keep calm and not cry, a man who was humming to himself walked past and asked why I was waiting for the tram and didn’t I know the last one had already gone? I snapped back at him to leave me alone and went back inside to find a taxi number. A seven minute journey cost me 20€. All I can say is thank God for Ruth, who let me stay at hers for an extra night and who went out in the rain to get some cash out to pay the taxi driver and then made me tea and watched Masterchef with me. RUTH MARRY ME.

The next day I went back to my halls and kicked up a fuss at reception, which is completely against my British nature – I suppose the French must be rubbing off on me. Within three hours, my bed was fixed, my shower and tap replaced, the internet was working and a man had come to sort out the ant problem. Turns out the French respond well to angry complaints. The ants have mostly gone now; I sometimes find one or two wandering around on their own looking a bit lost but other than that, it’s fine. (I’ll just gloss over the part where the door stopped working and I got locked into my building and where two days after the hot water was supposed to be back I was still taking cold showers…)

That was one of the worst nights since I’ve been here, but following the laws of “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” (physics) I also had one of the best nights. We went to L’Antirouille, which is a club/music venue that I’d never been to before. The DJs that night were Bart and Baker, these two old guys (they must have been older than 60), one wearing a red suit and the other wearing a white one, both with top hats to match. They play ‘electro-swing’, which is basically remixes of old songs with a jazzy beat and it was GREAT. Any night out where a remix of Sinatra’s ‘New York New York’ gets played is going to be an amazing night by my standards. We also dressed up a bit for the occasion (well, we did our make up and hair 1920s style), which made it even more fun.

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Let’s party like it’s 1929 (copyright Chantal)

This week, we also discovered two shops that I’ve known about for ages and have wanted to visit but they’ve been closed every time I tried. I seriously regret not having investigated them sooner, but at the same time it’s probably a good thing as I would have spent way too much money in each of them. The first one is the English shop called Fou d’Anglais and oh my God…

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The second is a coffee shop called Home Coffee which is super cute and definitely my new regular.


It’s a shame I already managed to cross off ‘become a regular to the extent that the shop owner knows your name and your order’ from my bucket list already, or this could have been it. Speaking of which, we went back to see the Queen of Falafel last week. She wasn’t there but her husband was, and we had a nice chat and he finally gave us some free food so we’re definitely his official favourite and most regular customers now.

I think that’s all for this week! This week and next should be full of revision because my exams start on Wednesday and continue until a week next Tuesday, but it’s quite hard to revise when my early notes look like this…

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Luckily my notes have improved (slightly) as the term has gone on

…and these days I spend my lectures daydreaming and/or taking Buzzfeed quizzes.


This is not a productive use of my time but I was happy I got the turtle

At least what we’re learning is useful though.


Oh no wait…

I can’t have been going too far wrong though, because we got our essays back that we handed in a couple of weeks ago and not only did I pass but I actually got a good mark! I nearly fell off my chair with relief and shock when the teacher handed it back to me.


It’s a Christmas miracle

Crossed off the bucket list this week:

  • Go to Les Hivernales
  • Go to the best clubs in Montpellier

Joyeux Noël tout le monde ! À la semaine prochaine !

Bisous xxx

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