Bonjour à tous !
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and that you’re still appropriately hungover and full from Christmas dinner.
Christmas at home with my family!
I’m home! I can’t quite believe it’s over. I’ve been back in England for a little under 4 days and already it’s beginning to feel like my time in France was no more than an extremely elaborate dream that didn’t really happen. Being home is fantastic though: I’m back with my family, my friends, my dog, a room that is entirely free from ants, and, most importantly, I’m in a country where toilet seats are the norm.
I’ve missed you
I feel like lists are a good way to round things off, so without further ado, I present to you…
Top 5 things I absolutely will not miss about France
- Paul Valery and everything about it.
The long lessons. The lecturers who read off a sheet in monotone. The horrible buildings. The 8am starts and 8pm finishes. The stupid path that goes from the tram stop to Paul Valéry that’s far too narrow for the floods of students and is half taken up by a bicycle path and unnecessarily large trees, meaning you have to play a weird game of reverse frogger in order to get to university. The fact that people don’t let you off the tram before they try to get on at the university tram stop (and all the other tram stops). I will miss the canteen though.
In principle, I really like the concept of not working for a whole day and spending some time with your family and friends. In practice, though, it sucks if you want to buy food, buy anything, get public transport, leave the house or do anything.
CAF may be one of the best things ever (free money for students, why is this not a thing in England?) but getting it has taken me four full months of photocopying, printing, signing on the dotted line, sending documents, writing official letters, opening bank accounts, and general stress. Let’s not get started on finding a place to live, insurance, enrolling at university, choosing modules, signing up for exams and opening a bank account. Heaven forbid you should need to see a doctor.
- The men
- French numbers
I still can’t do them and I’m not optimistic that I’ll ever be able to confidently hand over exact change when buying any item that costs more than X euros and 69 cents. I had an absolutely fantastic time in France though, so it wouldn’t be fair to write about things I won’t miss without also writing about…
The top 10 I really will miss about France, in order of least to most
- Everything is so cheap (compared with London)
CAF taken into account, my monthly rent in Montpellier was less than ¼ of my rent in central London. Everything else is cheaper too, such as…
- Cheap wine
- Les Estivales/Les Hiverales
- The nightlife
Maybe my nights out in London are just very tame, but in Montpellier not only are most clubs free entry (!) but they mostly don’t even open until 1am. A normal night out lasts until at least 5am. These timings suit me down to the ground, because it means a later morning, and therefore later breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It also leaves a lot of time for predrinking, which is so fun and very cheap (see number 5).
- The weather (when it’s not flooding).
This picture was taken on the 21st of December…
- The beach
- The food
No comment needed
- The people
When I came to France I didn’t know anyone. 4 months later when I left, I’ve met so many people from all over the world that I’m going to miss so incredibly much. The weather, the cheap wine, the beach and the food made France so much fun, but none of it would have meant anything without amazing people to share it with, and I’m so grateful to have met them.
Although I’ve been assured that this does actually exist in England (I just hadn’t expanded my culinary horizons far enough to find it), it will always be something that reminds me of France. To say goodbye to everyone, it was only appropriate that we celebrated in the style we’d been celebrating all year; that is to say, inviting loads of people to Ruth’s flat and drinking loads, but this time with the addition of Christmas hats, santa outfits and a less than perfect attempt at the Jingle Bell Rock dance from Mean Girls. On our very last night, what other way to celebrate than with a big meal? Those of us who hadn’t yet left Montpellier to go home for Christmas were assigned an element of Christmas dinner (most people were assigned simply ‘alcohol’) to prepare and bring to Chantal’s house. The meal included several chickens, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets, stuffing, peas, carrots, gravy, caramel pork and fried rice for an English Christmas dinner with a Vietnamese twist. It would have also included broccoli if I hadn’t dropped the bowl. For dessert there was cake (lots of it) and we celebrated Ruth’s birthday a bit early. Then, we continued to drink wine and play time’s up until the early hours. I really, really wasn’t ready to leave Montpellier, but given that we had to leave, I think that was the perfect way to do it. The next day included packing, cleaning, trying to convince Ruth’s landlord that those stains were there when she moved in, cancelling phone contracts, sending hastily written postcards that were bought three months ago (oops), some last-minute Christmas shopping and a final meal at Queen of Falafel, who started cooking us our usual ‘falafel galette, sauce blanche, avec frites’ as soon as we walked in.
The final falafel
Then Ruth and I dashed to the station (with much help from Chantal, Huy and Hanshu with our suitcases) and caught the train to Nîmes. Tears were shed.
This next bit is kind of emotional and should only be read with this song playing in the background.
I’m honestly astounded at how welcoming and friendly the people I’ve met here have been. I think part of the reason I’ve made such good friends is that it’s impossible to take on the trauma that is French bureaucracy together and not come out of it bonded for life, and partly because I’ve just been really, really lucky with the people I’ve met. We’ve talked, laughed, cried, cried with laughter, sunbathed, hitchhiked, seen strippers, danced, eaten, drunk, got smashy, been perved on, perved on our Lit. Comp. teacher, had feminist rants, been to hundreds of hours of lectures, been given black eyes, given black eyes (hopefully to that boy who tried to feel up Chantal on the bus), been shown how femidoms work, talked about sex (ok, Huy talked about sex), passed exams (maybe), cooked, and taken probably half of all snapchats sent between August and December. You guys collectively have changed my life, and you’ve changed me for the better – I’m so much more confident now, I’ve stopped apologising every other sentence for things that aren’t my fault and my selfie game is 1000x stronger. I’ll miss you all so, so much and can’t wait to see you again, in Montpellier, London, Rome, or wherever we are. While I’m still being emotional, a huge thank you to the co-stars of this blog, Chantal and Ruth, because I don’t think any of this would have even happened without you two taking me under your wing. Without you two, I would never have discovered rillette, Cuntry Living and the love of my life, Boursin, all of which have improved my life exponentially. So thanks salopes, I love you both, and the same goes for all the rest of you :) I don’t want to end on an emotional note, so I thought I’d leave you with a playlist of a few songs that remind me of Montpellier (it’s not finished yet, so let me know if I’ve forgotten anything…)
- Wannabe – Spice Girls
- Gigoter – Romano
- Alors on dance – Stromae
- Chandelier – Sia
- Sur Ma Route – Black M
- Defined Lines [Feminist Parody] – Auckland Law Revue
- Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler – Edith Piaf
- Thrift Shop [Bart & Baker Electro Swing Club Remix] – Scott Bradlee and postmodern Dukebox
- Diva [Bart and Baker Remix] – MissSis
- Ces soirées là – Yannick
- Fancy – Iggy Azalea
- Danza Kuduro – Don Lore V
- Don’t Stop Movin’ – S Club 7
- Watch Out For This – Major Lazer
- Everybody – Backstreet Boys
- Boom Clap – Charli XCX
- Vamos a la Playa – Loona
- Rude – Magic!
- Starships – Nicki Minaj
- Can’t Speak French – Girls Aloud
- Prayer in C [Robin Schulz remix] – Lily Wood and Robin Schulz
- All Of The Lights – Kanye West
- Dare – Shakira
- Budapest – George Ezra
- Ella, Elle L’a – France Gall
- Royals – Lorde
Things I didn’t do from my bucket list (oops)
- Go to the opera (because there wasn’t anything on)
- Go to the zoo (because I forgot)
- Go to the musée fabré (because we decided we didn’t care enough about art and that we’d rather get drunk like the classy gals we are)
Next stop, Rome bitches!