Ellen Roberts-James

Part 1: Excuse My French

Ellen Roberts-James

I can’t believe I’ve been here for nearly two months now – time just keeps flying. Our lazy weeks are still compiled of exploration and wine gluttony, but a new dimension has managed to wiggle its way in a bit now: I had my first bout of real homesickness.

I wasn’t really expecting it. As much as I love and miss aspects of home (namely London and good tea and my cat), I never felt genuinely upset to be apart from it all. The other day however, whilst catching up on Bake Off, I realised that I was missing home unbearably. It is not a feeling I enjoy, nor one I cared to prolong, so I explored a few ways of dealing with it all:

  1. Unhealthy binging on London crime-based drama. Not only did it provide me with a wonderful glimpse of home, like nostalgically flicking through a photo album, but it also showed me that London is full of murder and serial killings and I felt a little bit happier to be away from it all. I also (and I’m not proud of it) indulged in the X Factor auditions (although I haven’t stopped watching it despite auditions having stopped 4 weeks ago), which, although seriously shit, felt like home for a while.
  1. Entice your friends to come and visit! It’s quite fun being a tour guide in a foreign place, it even makes me feel proud to be living here in such a pretty little city. Catching up and hearing about how terrible the English weather is as you sit in 22 degree October makes one feel wonderfully smug.
  1. Get said friends to bring you English food, or splash out in the ‘Foreign Food’ aisle in your local supermarket. Although, the French apparently think that Lucky Charms are English, and that Sharwood’s is authentic Indian, so don’t set your hopes too high. I had reached the point where my veins were craving proper breakfast tea (which is about 5 euros a box here), so when my friend bought me a 240 pack of Tetley’s, it was an emotional roller-coaster. That first sip tasted like what I can only imagine your first sip of water would taste like after being stuck on a desert island for a year.
  1. Finding homely places nearby to perk you up. Avignon has an adorable English (and I use that term very loosely) second-hand bookshop and café. It’s idyllic and I actually feel like I’m somewhere in London, apart from the distinct and should-be-ILLEGAL lack of English Breakfast Tea. The café owner says she likes seeing English peoples’ faces when she tells them she doesn’t have exactly the tea they came in for, which is quite frankly pure evil. Finally being able to see Bridget Jones’s Baby in English as well was truly life-saving, and there’s always McDonalds when you want that cheap and cheerful universal taste of home.
  1. When all that wasn’t enough, I recited my favourite proverb (yolo), and did the unthinkable. In a moment of pure exasperation and homesickness delirium, I found myself staring at a confirmation page for flights to London. And I have no regrets. Initially I didn’t want to go home, it felt almost like year abroad failure. But the thought of spending Halloween weekend in London with my best mates just fills me with such excitement that I couldn’t give a shit really. I feel like it will be the breath of life I needed (possibly more like CPR), so that I can return to sleepy old Avignon refreshed from the polluted London air and nourished by Stepney Fried Chicken.

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