Fun times and nights out

6 Oct

My new, marginally easier Italian class on Monday morning went surprisingly well, so much so that afterwards I went into town to make the all-important purchase of a mini French to Italian dictionary. Because I love languages that much. I also finally sorted out the ongoing saga of my Orange simcard. To get you up to speed, September 3rd, I arrive in Bordeaux, sign up to Orange, all is fine and dandy.

The next day, I get a message saying I need to bring ID into the store or they’ll cut off my line on October 3rd. I head into one, where they tell me I have to call up some number and ask them for their fax number. I don’t understand what the automated voice on the phone says, so give up and just go to a different Orange shop where they enter my driving licence details on the computer, job done. The following day I get the same message again, so go back to the same shop, where they say it’s just an automated message and to ignore it. I then continue to get this message every 2 days for the entire of September.

On Monday I decided that it was probably worth trying to fix it before my only means of contact when I’m not at home got cut off. What should have been a simple task turned into a saleswoman at Orange shouting down the phone asking for someone to untick a box on the screen, which apparently she didn’t have the power to. After faxing a photocopy of my driver’s licence, it was supposedly all sorted. I still got the same message as usual later in the day, but my phone line hasn’t been cut off. Yet.

On Tuesday evening I had the first of many DEFLE (Département d’Etudes de Français Langue Etrangère) classes. 5.30-8pm twice a week isn’t going to be easy, but it’ll be worth it in the long run as the teacher is aiming for my group to reach C1 proficiency by Christmas. The group is mainly made up of Erasmus students, with a few people doing a full Masters here, and others just wanting to get their French up to scratch.

It was reassuring to hear that many people had the same experience when it came to househunting, with one German girl originally starting out in University accommodation (think cockroaches and peeling paint), then moving in with a family, who seem to be a perfect example of the kind of crazy landlords everyone has had to put up with while here. All three daughters have moved out and the husband works away during the week, while the wife refuses to eat meals with her and won’t let her use the washing machine to do her laundry. Other friends here have had issues such as being grounded by their landlady and having their keys confiscated, or the landlord banning them from having friends round and continuing to store their own personal possessions in their renter’s bedrooms, which they feel they can access whenever they please.

For Matthew’s 21st and Dan’s 20th that night we all met up at Apollo Bar (highly recommended for the great cocktails), had a great time, and ended up staying out past the last tram. Thinking it would be easy to catch the night bus back, Emily, Aaron and I waited at the stop for over an hour, before giving in at 3.15 and getting an overpriced taxi back to Aaron’s. We did however make friends with a lovely hobo who spoke a few different languages, definitely overqualified for the role. We politely turned down his offer to buy his camera off him for €20.

Feeling a little worse for wear: “I can’t feel my face”

Thursday was another busy day of lectures. I’m somewhat getting used to the number of contact hours at uni here, which is a fair bit higher than what I’m used to at Bristol. Here I have 18 a week, although some have 20+. The length of lectures is also a major step up, with 2 hours being the minimum for most classes, stretching up to 4 hours for some unlucky souls eg. Aaron and Abbie’s marketing lecture on Friday afternoons. Seriously, I feel for you guys. Even the lecturers themselves have complained about the length of classes, since neither the students nor themselves have attention spans long enough to care about anything said after the first hour and a half!

Feeling a bit stressed about how much I’m lagging behind in Japanese, I have bought myself a grammar book, which has turned out to be incredibly useful and I sort of get what’s going on now! I had a bit of fun with Google translate as they have a converter which changes romaji (our alphabet) into hiragana/katakana/kanji. While trying to type in the simple phrase ‘ わたしは イギリス人 です ‘ (I am English) it somehow managed to get translated as ‘I cut people’. I’m now feeling very cautious about trying to introduce myself to any Japanese speakers.

On Thursday night we went to Victoire for a ‘quiet few drinks’ (famous last words). There was a street party going on for La Féria which was some kind of Spanish event involving running away from bulls in a sandpit. Although we didn’t attend the main event, which had finished by the time we got there, apparently it involved a number of different teams (including an Erasmus team who won!) running away from a bull, and losing points if it headbutted them into the pool in the centre. At one point everyone got naked as well. I’m sure British health and safety would never condone an event like this, but this is one of those things which we’re probably better off without. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to explain to A&E how you ended up getting gored by a bull.

After having drinks at Victoria Cafe, where a few people picked up some rather fetching foulards (neckerchiefs), although as they ran out I got given a t shirt that says “Garden Party, C’est naturellement frais!” instead. No idea what that’s about, but I love free stuff so I was all over it. We then headed to El Bodegon, a mad bar which had free entry and turned out to be some kind of club. Highlights of the night include having my head touched inappropriately by a stranger, doing shots of what looked and tasted like mouthwash, and the bartenders setting the bar on fire a few times, just for laughs. We eventually got the nightbus (which actually turned up this time) home, although my English phone got stolen in the crush of people trying to get on. Sad times, but I’ll live.

Finally, at their request, here’s a special shoutout to Conor, Niall and Sammy, just a few of the lovely Irish people I’ve met while out here. No matter how many times you ask, I’m not going to dedicate a whole post to you, sorry guys.

Sights of the day

While in Auchan I was feeling a bit peckish, when I spied this sandwich-alternative. It’s basically a wrap, but with lettuce instead of bread round it. In essence I think it’s a great idea, although the name leaves a lot to be desired, and there was a clear lack of chicken in what was supposed to be a chicken and parmesan wrap.


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