September 23, 2009
I feel like this is a sharp contrast to my first year abroad in France -the exact opposite in fact. I am alone, like before but everything is completely different. I don’t know if it’s because I’m different, france is different or because I’m going to a different area in France. To say the least, I AM SO HAPPY. Everyone has been so great with helping me and speaking in french to me. After talking to Oli, he suggested that the French speaking to me in french isn’t exactly nice but I’ll take it however they want to dish it out. I LOVE IT!
Getting to the train station with all my gear was so annoying. The guy at the hotel told me to go the train station and grab a “chariot” (cart) and bring it back to the hotel to take me suitcases there. I thought, well then I could get my tickets a sorted and not have to worry about my luggage. Unfortunately I wasn’t that smart and I didn’t want to make two trips. I slowly struggled through the 200m to the station. Once I got there I was covered in sweat and hungry again. (The hotel breakfast consisted of coffee and a croissant) In favor or saving my euros for the taxi in St Chely, I forgoed getting food and grabbed a water instead. This is where I meat Moha. He works at the Gare de Lyon welcome center. He was the nicest guy ever! He helped me with my luggage to the billet counter and then to my quai. At this point he asked for my number, which I felt bad not giving it to him so I just gave it to him. It’s not like I’m going to see him ever again and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings after he helped me so much. I consider it a win-win situation.
The train was interesting. A woman behind me started talking on her cell phone very loudly and the lady facing me kept rolling her eyes. I couldn’t help but laugh inside. There are signs posted everywhere about cell phone usage. Literally every two feet there is a sign that points to the area between cars where you can talk. The french even installed little rails where you can hold onto while in there. That’s where I put my luggage since there wasn’t any room in my car for it. That always worries me and Moha told me that at every stop I had to come back and check on it till be leave again. Thank god there were only three!
At this point, I’ve taken plane, train and bus to my destination. I got off the bus and literally wanted to cry. I was in the middle of nowhere literally. I saw houses and buildings clustered together but that was at least half a mile across the highway. There were no taxis, or anything in sight except for the small train/bus station. I left my bags outside and went inside the station. (There wasn’t anyone around to steal them.) I waited in line behind this girl buying something and finally got up to the counter where the guy called me a taxi. It cost me ten euros to get the hotel which was .7 miles away. I know, because I mapped it before I left in case I couldn’t get a taxi. What a rip off.
The hotel is nice. The owner is great, very welcoming and helpful. That’s one thing I can say for this trip. Everyone seems to be very nice. Maybe my french is just better. I CAN ONLY HOPE! I’m having dinner by myself downstairs tonight. This is a first for me among lots of firsts this time around. I never know what people do while eating alone. For me, eating has and will always be a social experience and I don’t like to do it alone. When I do have to eat alone, I usually eat something fast or quick in my own place.
I’m meeting Beatrice tomorrow morning. I’m nervous and excited at the same time for I don’t know what to expect. I hope the kids like me, I hope the school is nice (I won’t hold out for that one), I hope that my french doesn’t suck and most of all I hope they have internet and a place for me to live.
A la prochaine mes amis….
September 24, 2009
Wow. I didn’t realize how small of a town I was placed until I couldn’t get lost in it today. I thought I would need at least 30 minutes to find the office du tourisme and then acquire a map to get to the school for my meeting with Beatrice. What a joke. All that took me a maximum of ten minutes. I tried to wander a bit further down the main street but I’m just not that good at wandering. I have yet to find a real grocery store but there is an 8 à 8 across from my hotel. I think I may have to go into Mende (1 hour away) to get the other things I’ll eventually need.
While walking around this morning, I was shocked by the sound of music coming from speakers all around in the street. Then all of a sudden a voice came on and being announcing different activities going on for that day and the weekend. WEIRD. I thought I was crazy until I realized that other people went on doing what they were doing.
The teachers are amazing here! They are so welcoming and one even offered to let me stay with her in Mende whenever I want a break from St. Chely. The school is surprisingly very nice and up to date. They have internet- a big bonus for me if I live there. They also have marker boards, a brand new cafeteria and restaurant for the cooking students. Beatrice told me that in a few weeks the teachers will be able to eat in the restaurant. The high school is sort of split in two. There is a general high school with a bac prep and the other half is professional preparation.
Everything seems to be going smoothly here and I’m about to head down for another meal alone tonight. It’s kinda sad but I haven’t seen any places where younger people hang out. Looks like this is going to be my soberest year yet!
A la prochaine mes amis...