Thursday, September 29, 2011

Je suis en France!

I am in France! I haven't taken too many pictures yet since I just got in yesterday. It was a very, very long day of travel -- lugging around an enormous backpack, carry-on, and purse by yourself is not easy. I purposely did not weigh my bags because I didn't want to psych myself out. 

Tyler took me to the airport early Tuesday morning and it was not an easy goodbye. We sat outside of security for about an hour and it was funny because not five minutes after we sat down, two French couples seated themselves at the table right behind us. Talk about signs.

My plane went to Chicago first and then I had about an hour and a half to wait until I got on my flight for Madrid. My goal was to stay awake until after dinner and then sleep for the rest of the flight until breakfast. There weren't the individual tv screens, so there was nothing to tempt me to stay awake and the plane was half empty so I was able to lay down into the seat next to me. 

When I got to Madrid, I went through customs and tried asking the man at the counter if there was a possibility of getting my work visa stamped once I arrived in France, but he misunderstood me, said "Stamp? Okay," stamped my visa, gave me a big grin, and sent me on my way. I was too sleepy to protest and figured I would just ask someone what to do once I got to Marseille.

My plane to Marseille was almost an hour delayed and I had to keep showing my ticket to people at the information desks to find out what gate to go to. Once it did come, everyone had to take a shuttle to the tiny airplane. I think that there were only about twelve or thirteen rows on the plane and there were two seats on either side. I must have been tired because I fell asleep before we took off, missed the drinks, and woke up to the pilot announcing that we would be landing in fifteen minutes. My bags were the first to show up at baggage claim but by the time I got my backpack on and my suitcase and bag situated, everyone else had their bags too. 

I asked the police/customs people if I would have trouble with immigration and my visa since it was stamped in Spain, but they said that it would not be a problem. Then I found an ATM, asked a woman in information where I could find the airport shuttle to the train station, bought my ticket for the shuttle, got on the shuttle, went to the train station, stood in the wrong line to ask how to print my e-billet, stood in the right, much longer line to ask how to print my e-billet, got my ticket printed, validated my ticket, bought a giant bottle of water, put my bags down, waited forty-five minutes to see which platform my train would be at, picked my bags back up, got on my train, lifted my bags into the overhead compartment with Herculean effort, and waited for my train to leave the station.

 This was the first picture I took -- my grand accomplishment of lifting my bags. But then I remembered that I would have to get them back down eventually, and hopefully without smashing them into whichever poor French people who had the misfortune of sitting in my compartment. As soon as my compartment emptied out, I pulled my bags down -- I definitely would have injured someone sharing that tiny space.

When I arrived at my destination, I was picked up by a teacher at one of my assigned schools and she drove me to Bourg-St.-Andeol and my host family. I was able to understand about 90% of what she said, so I felt fairly confident. My host family is wonderful and they said that I could stay with them as long as I like. We had some brioche and Nutella outside on their terrace, walked over to one of my schools just a few minutes away, and ate dinner. Then I slept for about fourteen hours. Yeah.

Today I went to meet the director of one of the schools I'll be at to meet some of the teachers and see my other housing option. There is a room available in the upstairs of the school but it is not furnished and can get pretty cold in the winter; however, there is no rent and some families have offered to donate furniture. So far I have two options: stay with the host family or stay in the room at the school. Neither option seems very conducive to visitors so far, so I'm working on figuring that out.

After I left the school, I took a few pictures on my walk back to my host family's house.

 The school
 La Tour Nicolai
 L'eglise de Bourg-St.-Andeol
 A bookstore that I went to with the family where the son bought blank sheet music
and the French version of The Witches by Roald Dahl

 Here is the room that I'm staying in. I love the yellow sheets. 
The other side of the room

That's all for now. Tonight I'm going to see a movie with my host mom called Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A bientot!


  1. Those pictures look unreal! I can't believe you get to live there...okay I am thinking about some serious saving money tips so I can join you...Can I just say I love how Nutella is like peanutbutter there. Amazing.