Embarrassment and confusion: everyday life in Bordeaux

27 Sep

My first full week of lectures started with a fairly gentle 3.30pm class, although translating from English into French in a class full of French people does put you at a slight disadvantage. Thankfully, the teacher didn’t pick any of the erasmus students out to offer up our translated sentences (I got 2 completely correct, win). Whenever I encounter Matthew we always somehow manage to embarrass ourselves, and Monday was no exception. While waiting outside the classroom, a girl noticed us talking in English and asked us, (also in English) if we were erasmus students, and Matthew replied making a jokey casual comment about helping people with their English if they help us with our French. When the room emptied, the girl walked to the front of the classroom and started setting up for class, and we realised that she was in fact a youthful-looking teacher. Cue awkward embarrassment for the rest of the lesson.

Tuesday’s Japanese class was somewhat better structured than last week’s, although M. Asari thought they first grammar point he would teach us would be how to make a verb negative…without teaching us any verbs first. He then decided that he would teach us, in his own words, ‘the most difficult and challenging of all Japanese verbs,’ あります (arimasu). Apparently it’s a verb of ‘existence’, but isn’t really like ‘to be’ and doesn’t apply to all objects. All the meanwhile he was trying to teach this based on a handout with no translations under the sentences. At least I recognised some of the hiragana as I’ve been teaching myself the alphabet. 30 symbols down, 16 to go! In the afternoon I had French to English translation, which was obviously a lot easier for Matthew and I than the French students. I plan on bribing French people to be my friends by offering to help with their translations.

On Wednesday I had my first linguistics lecture, which turned out to be one of my favourite classes so far as it’s specifically about language acquisition and problems, which I studied a bit last year in Bristol. The teacher speaks nice and clearly and is all about mindmaps and graphs, just my kind of teacher. Since France is still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to classroom technology, he wrote on a blackboard with chalk, no powerpoint in sight. Inevitably this led to another situation where everyone ends up piling into the first few rows in the hopes of being able to read anything. After the lecture I attempted to sign up for a sports pass so I can do yoga, which meant queueing for the DAPS office, where I was told that I would have to go to the International Office first as I am an erasmus student. I then queued for an hour for the office, where they let a bunch of us stay past the official opening hours, only to be turned away when I was supposed to be next. When I told the woman all I wanted was a sports pass, she sighed, to which I asked whether it was too difficult/would take too long at that point in the day. She told me that it would in fact be ‘very very easy’…and then said I’d have to come back tomorrow. She then spoke to the girl behind me and said she’d be able to help her with her far more lengthy problem straight away. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS UNIVERSITY. After that I headed into town to try and weather-proof myself, since I came entirely unprepared for anything less than 25 degrees and clear skies, and picked myself up a coat from H&M in that greige (grey/beige) shade that is oh-so popular here. The French don’t seem to like their colours. I then had a little trip to Auchan (my new favourite supermarket in the world) and used what is clearly a superior alternative to trolleys. They’re easy to steer, you can choose whether to use one basket or 2, you can take the baskets off, it basically just offers a whole world of possibilities that the common trolley does not:

Sights of the day

Auchan has a free water dispenser, just in case you get thirsty from the hours it takes to walk down the kilometres of aisles it has over 3 floors. I’ve added this to the list of things the English could not be trusted with. Mainly because I myself managed to spill water all over both myself and the floor while trying to have a drink, and ran away hoping no one would notice. There’s probably an old French woman somewhere with a broken hip because of me.

While browsing the massive selection of Milka, I noticed you can buy small individual bars. I wasn’t so sure about the serving suggestion they put on the front though. A chocolate bar in baguette?


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