papal-palace

Excuse My French

I’ve been in Avignon for two weeks now, and it’s been pretty fantastique so far.

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This medieval town is surrounded by a wall built in the 1300s, and inside lies a labyrinth of tiny cobbled streets, little bakeries, cafes and bars. It is also, I’ve noticed, host to some of the funniest and most worrying fashion ever, so I thank God there is a Zara and H&M here, lest I be forced to wear some of this ghastly stuff.

French food is both the best and worst thing about this country so far. It’s wonderful, its cheap and it’s going to push me into obesity. When a baguette costs 30 cents, a slab of brie costs a euro, and a bottle of decent wine only 2€, it is imperative that one adheres to strict self-discipline. This will be tough. I am proud, however, of the fact that I managed to try my first snail, and it was actually pretty delish if you imagine it is not, in fact, a gross little snail.

The pace of life here is a bit of a culture shock. People tend to do things when they feel like it, rather than when it is supposed to happen. I’ve developed a London walk over the last two years as well, which doesn’t quite work when no one here really walks, they all sort of meander and plod. It’s definitely something I can get used to though: slow starts to the morning, very long lunch breaks, and late soirées with wine and great food.

So far it’s been about 35-36 degrees every day here, which is quite difficult to adjust to – and potentially life-threatening – for someone as dangerously pale as myself. But it’s amazing and every day felt like a holiday when we first arrived, strolling around in the sun and drinking wine on our roof terrace.

But then University started.

I stand by what I said in my last column – the French bloody love paperwork. There is so much to sort out, and nothing is ever online. That’s what I really miss about England: administrative efficiency and (though I never thought I’d say it) QMplus. I had major issues starting university this week because there was one sheet missing from a pile of a thousand. But, alas, once the admin lady finally learned how to use her computer, it was all sorted and I could collect my student card and begin classes.

The classes themselves are quite strange so far. I’m a tad tired of hearing my surname pronounced ‘RRRRohbarr Djem’, and not to mention the classrooms which, evidently, time forgot. Chalkboards, wooden desks, VHS PLAYERS. It’s also an absolute nightmare trying to find our classes for the simple reason that we aren’t given timetables. The Erasmus system here is simply to turn up to any class you feel like and hope it adds up to enough credits. Trying to listen to quick French and take notes whilst at the same time trying not to pass out or go blind in the heat is also quite tricky.

On the whole though, I do think I will enjoy University here. It’s a shame that we can’t just roam around aimlessly all day sightseeing and eating ice cream, but we have loads of time for that. I know that once classes get going properly I’ll settle into those sweaty classrooms with more ease and less heatstroke.

A la prochaine!

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